Friday, February 29, 2008

Looking For Snow In The Camden World

Camden County's been getting snow warnings all day long, anything from rain to two inches. All I've seen all day long is clouds. I went to Uncle Ken's and did my laundry with no fuss. I had a nice little chat with Uncle Ken's girlfriend Dolores and her sweet grandson Blake. Blake's about four, and he's a really sweet kid. Dolores invited me to a neighbor's baby shower; we'll see if I can get home from work in time on Sunday.

Work was busy for most of the evening. Between beginning-of-the-month customers and the snow forecast, we had long lines for much of the night.

Oh, and I hope you all enjoyed your extra Leap Year day. I'm just happy knowing I have an extra day before I have to pay the rent. ;)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Kitties and the Papas

Since today was counseling day anyway, I decided to finally bring my donations to the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop a few blocks down in Collingswood. I tried to bring them two weeks ago, but the store was closed for the entirety of the President's Day Weekend. Actually, it may have been just as well, since I added another bag of donations to the pile. I went through my shirts yesterday and got rid of a lot of Land's End, Eddie Bauer, and L.L Bean turtlenecks and mock-turtles I'd had as far back as high school. Most of them were faded, stretched, and waaayyy too big for me by now.

I now had too many donations to carry on the bike, so I walked to Collingswood. It was very cold, probably about 30 degrees, and still windy, but crisp and clear under a blue, cloudless sky. I browsed in the thrift shop for a little while after giving the volunteers my bag, then went across the street to the Collingswood Variety Store to look at their WebKinz selection. They'd stocked some of the new ones since the last time I'd been there, including the first I'd seen of the Himalayan Cat, Schnauzer, Kangaroo, and Pink and White Cat. (For those of you in the Camden suburbs area who are looking for retired WebKinz, they also had the Raccoon and the regular-sized Gorilla.) I debated the Kangaroo before finally falling for the Himalayan's amazing blue eyes. (Linda's right; they DO have blue eyes you can see across the room!)

After I left the Variety Store, I decided to spend a half-hour or so at the Collingswood Library a block or two away. I never got past the main room on the lower level. The front entrance had two tables and several boxes of books and other items for sale...including crates of records. For some reason, the Collingswood Library is the only media center I know of in South Jersey to still carry LPs. I went inside and asked a guy friend of mine who works at the Library how much the records were. He said "25 cents." Sold! I ended up buying a studio cast album for the musical Brigadoon, a Christmas album, a soundtrack album for the MGM musicals Three Little Words and Annie Get Your Gun, and a huge four-album set of songs from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, Memory Lane. (I would have bought even more if many of the records were in better shape. I loved the two late-60s Disney soundtracks for The Happiest Millionaire and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, but both were badly scratched.)

I stopped at the Tree House Cafe briefly for hot chocolate and a peanut-butter-chocolate cookie (just a small one - I wasn't really hungry) before heading for counseling. Had a lovely chat with a large, good-natured fellow from Camden named Michael before Scott appeared. (Considering it's supposed to drop to 20 degrees tonight, I hope the poor guy got his roof done!)

I told him that the past few weeks had been a mix of frustration (work) and nothing great. I have finally started losing weight again. After being on a plateau since November, I dropped to 194 as of this Monday. I hope this means I'll finally be losing weight again. I was beginning to think I wouldn't be able to lose any more.

I'm now going to concentrate on finding out more about Drexel - how to get there, who to contact, how to get in, what their Library Science program's like - and finding out more about children's and school librarians.

I had just enough money for a quick (and overly sweet) Chai Latte at WaWa before heading home, where I spent the rest of the day. I did my yoga and played with my new WebKinz.

Meet Cassie, the regal Himalayan Cat! As majestic as the mountains her ancestors were reared in, gentle, good-natured Cassie has an air of quiet mystery around her that baffles most of her siblings. She was named in part for singer "Mama" Cass Elliott...and because I like the names "Cassie" and "Cassandra" and think they have the right air of the mystic for an Asian kitty! Cassie came with the Jeweled Table and a Blue Wagon. (I can see the Lil'Kinz Debbie and Elvis begging her for rides now... ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chimes In The Distance

Though it was windy, I opted for a bike ride to work today. I spent all morning puttering around online and doing college research, mostly looking at Drexel. I'd been asked to come in a little earlier than planned today by front end head Donna; no problem. I badly need the hours this week.

Turns out they needed me earlier than I thought they did. Donna apparently said 1PM; I thought she said 1:30. No matter. It was so dead, I could have come in at the original 2:30 and probably been fine, but even a little extra time is better than none. It's the end of the month and the middle of the week; most people are probably waiting for checks or tax returns.

Oh, and Lauren and I started the next role play a bit early, and will likely start April's early as well, due to her moving and my birthday. We have a lot of good ideas for both stories and both have actual plots this time, as opposed to the almost plotless comic party story we did for Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rain On The Roof

A fairly simple day similar to last Tuesday. I went to the Library under a cloudy sky, fighting wind but not much else. I stayed in the children's section, but this time did the Easy Readers, which was fun. There's some cute stuff in there, some of which, like Lillian Hoban's Arthur and Frances series and Arthur Lobel's Frog and Toad, along with Nate the Great and Henry and Mudge, have been around for years. I also pulled out a few spring/Easter/St. Patrick's Day-related books for the upcoming holidays.

I made a quick stop at Super Fresh for honey and red potatoes for dinner. It had started to sprinkle on my way to the library but stopped. It started to rain again as I left Super Fresh, but this time it didn't stop...and it lasted the rest of the afternoon. I spent the remainder of the afternoon doing things online. Thank goodness I got home before the rain really started to come down.

Oh yes, and I made meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and spinach salad for dinner this time. So far, my stomach's happy. I guess I didn't cook the pork ziti long enough.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just Checking

Did some research online this morning on colleges. Drexel and Rutgers are both online, and Drexel is only slightly more expensive than Rutgers. Rutgers, however, requires orientation and once-a-semester meetings, and their Library Sciences campus is in New Brunswick in North Jersey.

In addition to it's School Media Specialist program, Drexel also offers a "Youth Services Specialization" - in other words, a non-school children's librarian. I wouldn't mind that one, either, but I'm afraid it would limit it me to larger libraries or children's libraries in cities. Most small libraries can barely afford a staff of people to help adults, much less kids! On the other hand, it would take less time (3 years part-time, according to Drexel's site) and probably less money.

Spent the rest of the day at work. Work was on-and-off steady. There were some cranky people, and my register froze when I tried to close it towards the end of the day and I had to move...and I had a long line. I hate it when that happens. I just want to get the line moving.

Oh, and my stomach is feeling somewhat better. I drank a lot of chamomile tea and bought Tums and peppermint Lifesavers at work. I'm hoping it'll be good enough tomorrow to do my library volunteering; if not, I'll do it before or after counseling on Thursday. (The weather's looking iffy tomorrow too, rainy and windy.)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Eight Days A Week

The sun was shining when I awoke this morning, but it was also colder and the remaining snow had iced up a bit. However, the air was crisp and clear, and there wasn't a smidge of wind. I had a lovely ride to and from work today (other than the very cold bike seat - I wonder if it was frozen?).

Thank goodness after last Sunday, work was quick and no problem at all. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, maybe because of the lovely weather and vanishing snow (and none in the forecast for the foreseeable future). When I got out of work around 3:30, if it wasn't for the small piles of ice created by the snowplows on the edge of the Acme parking lot, you'd have never known it snowed at all. There were patches in shaded areas as I rode home, but it hardened and was nothing like yesterday's slush. (I am glad I cleared the steps off when I was able to, though. It would have been more difficult today, with the icier snow.)

It was such a nice day, I went for a quick walk to the WaWa on the White Horse Pike in Oaklyn, across from Family Dollar, after I got home. I did the soda fountain and made a Raspberry-Chocolate Coca Cola Zero. I love that soda fountain. No wonder Mom speaks so fondly of the soda shops she and Aunt Terri used to hang out at when they were kids.

Speaking of Mom, I called her when I got in. She was in quite a good mood. She'd just finished unpacking the last of the boxes from the old house with the help of Skylar, my sister Anny's 3-year-old son. Keefe was off with Anny, Skylar, and some of their friends in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, having taken the Cape May-Lewes Ferry over. I envied the trip. It was a perfect ferry day, and I haven't been on the ferry in ages.

Lauren's happy, too. She and her parents just found a nice house in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, about a half-hour from where they are now. They're going to move April 10th.

Ugh. I don't know what's wrong with my stomach. I guess it didn't like the Baked Pork Ziti I had for dinner. Mom often says pork gives her indigestion; maybe that's the problem. I just took Pepto-Bismol. I hope that helps.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mighty Quinn

I awoke to a slushy, sloppy, damp, cloudy morning. Not attractive, but it wasn't raining or snowing or even blowing, so I finally dragged myself out of bed to do my chores. I had oatmeal and watched The Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake, then went to the bank.

The Strawberry Shortcake episode in particular gave me a lot to think about. Rainbow Sherbet, a young female sailor who lives on her ship, pulls up anchor in Strawberry Land and decides to give land living a try. Strawberry and most of her friends are excited to have such an exotic newcomer among them...but Peppermint Fizz refuses to accept this unusual girl, with her boat talk and floating home. Strawberry tries to talk to her, but she stubbornly refuses to accept anything that's not like her.

Prejudice is a new concept in the Strawberry Land world, and it's handled fairly well here without coming off as TOO heavy-handed. I thought Strawberry's ultimate solution to the problem was fairly imaginative.

I've spent most of my life being made fun of because I was as different as Miss Rainbow Sherbet. I was obsessed with Star Wars in the late 80s, when most sci-fi had fallen off the radar. I was into reading, writing, quiet, and old movies, none of which endured me to the urban, hip-hop troubled kids at the Special Services Middle School or many of the kids at Lower Cape May Regional High School. Though I had an easier time in high school than many kids did (no angst for me), I still largely kept to myself. I figured they didn't want me, wouldn't want someone who was different.

"Different" is largely a matter of opinion, and I dwell too heavily on this, even now. I don't think I've ever really felt right in my own skin. I've always been told that this is wrong or that is wrong. Don't read this, don't wear that, don't play this, don't watch that. You're too old for this. You're not old enough for that. I'm so sick of all the "don'ts." No wonder I'm afraid to do anything!

I ran to the bank really quick after Strawberry Shortcake. It was so dead, I went right up to the teller and got right out in less than five minutes. I stopped at 7-11 and got a Caramel Cappuccino. (Too much coffee flavor, not enough caramel.)

Despite the slush, there were lots of kids out playing in the remains of the snow as I headed home. I ducked a snowball war between two boys and a girl. Two boys threw snowballs at each other from across their front lawns. Two other boys shoveled slush into a small mound that was probably their attempt at a snow(slush?)man.

When I got home, I grabbed my laundry basket, the pilates book, and the copy of The Rescuers I bought last week and headed for Uncle Ken's. All was quiet there. Dad was out, Uncle Ken was on his way out, and Dolores was chatting with a friend and left half-way through. It was well after 12PM by the time I got there; there weren't even any good cartoons on. I spent the time I was there reading, doing pilates, and just staring out the big picture window overlooking the river and thinking.

I went home long enough to have yogurt and a banana for lunch, then headed right back out again. I'd spent most of the week indoors, and slush or no slush, I was feeling the effects of some serious cabin fever. I walked down to Audubon, and after stopping at the bakery Desserts By Design for a massive chocolate chip cookies and a chat with the sweet proprietor (who is also one of the nicest Acme customers), I was off again. I headed for two of my favorite shops, Act Two Collectibles and Willie the Woodsman Gift Shop. I didn't really get anything at Act Two, but I got a new WebKinz at Willie's. Willie's doesn't have as good of a selection of WebKinz as the Collingswood Variety Store, but they do have several the Variety Store doesn't have, including Collies, Black and White Cheeky Dogs, and Lil'Kinz Bassett Hounds and St. Bernards. I debated the last two before remembering my last three WebKinz were dogs and opting for a polar bear instead. Quinn, my WebKinz Polar Bear! Our big, lovable Canuck is all heart...unless a Red Wings game is on. I named him after the 70s novelty song "The Mighty Quinn," which has been stuck in my head all week. (Yes, the one about the Eskimo.) He'll be sleeping in the Hockey Rink Room when I finally finish it. (Good thing I already bought all the items I'll need two of.) I moved Linda the Collie to her own Library Room to go along with the Exclusive Bed I got in the shape of a book. Quinn's living with Eliza the Black Poodle in the Modern Condo.

The WebKinz site was a bit of a pain tonight, though. I couldn't get into the Arcade at all, and the Tournament Arena kept mixing me up with the other player and wouldn't show my KinzCash until I'd signed out. After a while, I just plain couldn't get it. Either a lot of people got WebKinz tonight, or the site is just acting weird. I really wish Ganz would get some better (or faster-moving) programmers who can take care of this stuff in a more timely manner.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Here Comes Suzie Snowflake..."

The first thing I did when I got up was peer out the window on the side of my bedroom, near my bed. Yup, there it was. Six inches of clean, white snow under a porcelain sky that didn't look like it was going to give up the ghost any time soon. Ultimately, the snow proved to be fluffy and no big deal to clean. I finally swept it off my steps before I left work this afternoon. Other than that, I was iffy about doing any chores. The last time I ran around in snow, I fell down my steps and landed on my landlady's nephew. Thankfully, neither he nor I were hurt, but it was embarrassing. Considering what I did to myself on wet steps last July, we probably got lucky.

Even as Dad drove me to work, the snow was changing to a very light snow-rain mix. By the time I got out (with a full grocery bag and backpack - I haven't had a big trip in a while, and I needed fresh vegetables and pasta), it was 39 degrees and pouring regular, non-frozen rain. I don't think it's even doing that now.

Work was steady-to-busy, no problems other than some obnoxious people buying overflowing containers of crab legs they wouldn't bag. First of all, what's with the crab legs? Is there some kind of seafood convention going on in Camden? I know there's a sale on, but some of these containers could have fed the entirety of South Philly and had plenty left over for Midtown. Second, if you can bag, do so, especially when the baggers are busy. If you're hurt or can't, that's understandable, but don't sit there like a bump on a log and stare at us if you can.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Break From Winter Weather

First of all, Disney just put out a very early press release for this year's Walt Disney Treasures sets. In addition to the Savador Dali/Disney collaboration Destino, we're also getting two I've been looking forward to for a long time. Donald Duck finally gets the last laugh in his last shorts set, The Chronological Donald, Vol. 4. Hopefully, this will include the hilarious Halloween tale Trick Or Treat, the adorable Cinemascope short Working For Peanuts, and a classic widescreen featurette that used to turn up a lot on the Disney Channel between programming, Donald In Mathematics Land.

My friend Linda Young will be happy with the third release, and I like it, too. Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow, a Disney Revolutionary War mini-series from the Walt Disney World of Color 60s TV anthology show, used to show up a lot on the Disney Channel in the 80s too. Sometimes it would be in it's original series form on Walt Disney Presents; other times, it would be presented in the edited movie version shown in theaters in the 70s. Either way, it was an action-packed way for three adventure-hungry girls to spend an hour or so.

Here's more information at

Not a whole lot else went on today. The snow was glittering like a thousand diamonds when I awoke around 8:30AM, but by the time I went to work at noon, it was almost gone, and there was nothing left when I got out at 6:30. In fact, other than melting snow, the weather was downright perfect for late February, sunny, windless, and about 35 degrees. My rides to and from work were slightly chilly but otherwise enjoyable.

Wish I could say the same for work. Though not bad when I came in, by 2PM everyone had heard the news - we were in for at least two to four inches of snow, maybe sleet and rain. People were annoyed, cranky, and panicky, which didn't make my day any better. (Thankfully, there were no incidents like the ones on Sunday this time.) I really wish people wouldn't fuss so much every time we get a snow prediction. It's not like most people in Camden County live more than ten minutes from a grocery store!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let It Snow

After not seeing much winter weather this season besides last week's sleet and a mild storm in early December, we finally got some snow. It's a dusting, like powdered sugar, and it isn't sticking to the sidewalks and streets, but it's still pretty. I felt like I was riding under glitter when I came home from work! My porch looks like a flat pound cake dusted with sugar.

I spent most of the morning working on editing this month's Monkees Role Play, which will be going up as soon as I finish here.

Work was steady-to-dead for most of the night, except for around the 4PM-5PM rush hour, when all the panicked people coming home from work ran to the store for bread, eggs, and milk. I have no idea why people always suddenly decide they need those things when it snows. I can kind of understand the bread...but eggs and milk will be among the first things to go bad if the electricity goes out!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Volunteer Day

A rather quiet and uneventful day off, especially compared to last Tuesday. I put my tax signature sheet in the mail, then had a windy ride over to the library for this week's volunteering session. I organized the children's DVDs, and they really needed it. It seems they'd just had a ton of DVDs returned! After I finished there, I went through the college books and took out two on financial aid. I also took out three issues of the Walt Disney Comics. I do love me some Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge.

(Why does the Haddon Township Library have such a large collection of comic books and manga when most libraries don't consider them "real reading?" There are three high schools and four elementary schools less than ten minutes from the library; two of the elementary schools and two of the high schools are in walking distance. About half the library's customers are under the age of 18. That's why there's so many college-related items as well.)

I made a quick trip to Super Fresh for milk and a few other items on sale and stopped at Doria's Deli briefly after that for eggs and ham, then went home. The weather wasn't bad. It was about 45 and windy, which made the ride home a little difficult, but NOTHING like last week! There were on-and-off clouds, and I think I saw one or two flakes after leaving Super Fresh, but that was it.

The weather for the next few days doesn't sound as promising. They're calling for snow tomorrow evening (not good - that's when I work), then a "wintry mix" on Friday and Saturday. Right now they seem a bit iffy; I hope we just get rain. This time last year, we would have been digging out of six inches of ice, and I don't really feel like repeating history.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Salute To The Country's Leaders

And we send a shout-out to our nation's leaders, including two of the best, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, on this rather wet President's Day!
Getting So Much Better All The Time

Today was an improvement on yesterday. Given how lousy yesterday was, that's saying a lot. I really had nowhere to go but up. Work was busy but painless. The credit card system went down for about a half-hour early in the afternoon and caused a few headaches, but there was nothing on the order of the cranky patrons we had yesterday.

I stopped at Staples really, really quickly after work to get a new ink cartridge for my printer. The old one finally died, and the Acme doesn't sell the size required for my printer. My printer is a couple of years old, a nothing-fancy Hewlett Packard. I don't print photos, only text and very rare online pics, so it's fine for me. I'm so glad there's a Staples right behind us, across the parking lot from the shopping center building that contains FYE, among others. It makes shopping so much easier. (And the layout of the store makes things easier still - the ink cartridges are the first things you see when you hit the computer section.)

I needed the ink to print out my tax return and send a signed copy to the IRS. That'll be going out tomorrow, which will finish my taxes for the year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Won't Get Fooled Again

Arrgh, what a lousy day. Work was a pure pain. It was so busy, no one noticed my cute new hair do. I thought everything was going all right until a manager called me in their office as I went on break. It seems an older woman customer thought I was insulting her and her husband, including calling him a jerk-off. I don't remember a thing. The only customer I remembered in a turquoise sweater was a nice woman and her two kids; the little boy was hardly an older man.

I don't think I said anything, or at least nothing bad. I'd know if I did. At the time, though, I just wanted my break, so I nodded, told her I couldn't remember anything, and listened to the lecture about not insulting the customers.

Things did not improve after my break. Another older couple threw a fit when I asked them the usual question about items under the cart, and the man screamed at the top of his lungs, said I was accusing him of stealing, and walked out! Allow me to, once again, repeat this...


I felt lower than low when I got home. Things still didn't improve. I was hoping someone would be at Uncle Ken's house to talk to, but though the cars were there and the lights were on in the kitchen and the heated garage, the kitchen was deserted and the door to the garage was locked. I decided to just let them be.

I tried to make Mickey Mouse's Sugar Cookies, but they came out more like Mickey Mouse's Sugar Rocks. They just wouldn't spread. Maybe because I used light butter and wheat flour instead of melted shortening and white flour?

My day didn't get better until I got online. Lauren and I are finally finishing up this month's Monkees Role Play. Lauren's in the midst of looking for a new home with her parents. Their neighborhood has deteriorated, and they want a house that needs less care. Between that and my hours, this short story took a lot longer than planned, and we don't know when we're starting the next one.

I'm doing a lot of rearranging in my WebKinz house. I'm trying to get as many of the Winterfest, Christmas, and Valentine's Day items as possible in the Holiday Store, which is taking a while because they're scattered all over the house, wherever they'll fit. (Some of the Winterfest sweaters and hats may end up being given to future WebKinz as part of their wardrobes.) I'll probably start a Spring Holiday and Fall Holiday store when the FallFest and Easter items come out.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

WebKinz In, Taxes Out

It was such a gorgeous mid-February day (36 degrees, windless, and sunny as could be), that I decided to ride over to Collingswood to do some things I'd been putting off for weeks, even months.

The first one was drop off a few donations at the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop. Alas, the store was closed, both today and on Monday. The new proprietors must have gone on vacation for the holiday weekend.

So, by default, my first completed chore today was one I've been meaning to do for ages - get a hair cut! My hair is very pretty, thick and curly, but it frizzes like crazy and I'd let it get too long, so the ends were really split. I went to Haddon Hair Designs, across the street and down the block from Friends In Deed, and they did a really nice job. It's now shoulder-length, layered, and very curly. I'm so happy with it. I decided to stay in Collingswood a little while longer and show it off and enjoy the lovely weather.

My next stop was the Collingswood Variety Store two buildings down. The "Variety" store is mainly a party store, selling seasonal decorations and items, but they also have a small selection of toys, food, stuffed animals...and one of the largest collections of WebKinz in Camden County. I picked up two WebKinz and two packs of cards, to make up for my bare Valentine's Day.

I spent the next hour or so browsing up and down the Haddon Avenue Commercial District. I bought a small bag of Valentine jelly candies that were half-price from Sweet Treats Candies, and got three boxes of Christmas tea at a gourmet shop for $2.50. Collingswood (Used) Book Trader yielded paperback copies of One Hundred and One Dalmations, The Rescuers, the Jaqueline Girdner Kate Jasper novel A Stiff Critique, and the novelization of the 1987 movie Adventures In Babysitting. (Dalmations and Rescuers even had covers that were tie-ins for the original releases of the Disney movies.)

I had lunch in a hip, upscale coffee shop a block down from the Tree House Cafe. GrooveGround also sells CDs and t-shirts, which were too expensive for me, but it's nice to know someone else in Collingswood still sells CDs after Abbie Road moved to Audubon. Unlike the eclectic Tree House Cafe, GrooveGround is all dark colors, spare furniture, and bold angles. It's really a bit intimidating, which is why I never went in there before. I had a tasty lunch of vegetarian chili and flatbread. The Chai Tea Latte had too much milk, but was otherwise not too bad, not overly sweet like Starbucks'.

I went home after that and spent the rest of the afternoon on my computer, playing with my new WebKinz and doing my taxes. I normally do my taxes in late January-early February, but my W-2 was a little late this year. I got it all done in less than a half-hour. I don't have much to list. I own no property, pay no taxes beyond Student Loan Interest, have no dependents and no job outside of the Acme.

Oh, and meet my new WebKinz, Eliza the Black Poodle and Nanni the Husky! Cockney darling Eliza is living with Linda the Collie in the Modern Condo. Nanni will keep Elvis the Lil'Kinz Penguin in line in "The Igloo" winter-themed room. (Actually, I kinda bought Nanni to complete that room. He comes with an igloo-shaped bed!)

Nanni and Eliza's names both derive from the previous collector's darlings, the Beanie Babies. The Beanie husky was named Nook, as in Nanook of the North, so I went with "Nan." The Beanie black poodle is Gigi. Gigi and Eliza (Doolittle) are characters in 1950s Lerner and Lowe musicals. (Respectively, Gigi and My Fair Lady.)

Since Nanni and Eliza already had rooms prepared for them, I was able to use the money they came with to do something I've been wanting to do since we got all that Winterfest stuff, and even more so with the arrival of the Valentine's Day gifts. I greatly expanded the "Holiday Store" where I put all the Christmas stuff after the holiday season was over. Not only all of the holiday items, but the clothing won from ads (the bee and Alvin and the Chipmunks costumes) were moved there. It took me a while to do, too, since everything was scattered all over the "house." The former Holiday Store is now a "Sitting Room," i.e a place to put the couch, dresser, and table I won from the Trading Card Game and Eliza's Poofy Poodle Chair.

So...welcome to the Grand Opening of the Modern Pizzeria and the Grand Re-Opening of the Kinzville Holiday Store!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Restless Heart

For some reason, I woke up at 6:30 in the morning after sleeping only about 4 and 1/2 hours. I was sweaty and my mouth was dry. I finally kicked off some blankets, got a drink of water, and tossed and turned for another hour before finally getting back to sleep and getting up at 9:30.

I guess I'm just restless. Or just plain scared. I wish I could transfer my success with losing weight into finding a job. Why can I lose 40 pounds, and not find a job? What's wrong with me? Why can't I make things happen? What is it about me that scares potential employers away? Is it my lack of skills? Or my distinct lack of experience? I wish things would just happen.

And when am I going to have someone to give me Valentine's candy, instead of buying cheap bags of Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hershey's Kisses the day after?

Today was (finally) laundry day. Dora the Explorer and her buddy Boots the Monkey travel to the end of the rainbow to find the last piece of a puzzle of a wizard - his wand. Isa the Iguana, Benny the Bull, and Tico the Squirrel join them, culminating in a ride in a rocket that takes them to the rainbow's end! This must be a recent story. Map's voice sounded a little different, less nasal and slightly less annoying.

Go Diego Go! took the world at a snail's pace today as he and Sammy the Three-Toed Sloth helped a mother sloth and her baby escape from the path of a mud slide.

The Backyardigans also had fun in the mud as Swamp Tour Guides Pablo and Uniqua take tourists Austin and Tasha on a trip around their gooey habitat. Tasha's not interested...until she hears about a possible moose monster under the waters of the swamp...

Work was surprisingly quiet for the Friday of a holiday weekend where most kids are out of school. I guess everyone's either saving their money for Monday or on vacation. My register froze about 20 minutes before I left and I had to switch, but other than that, this was a quiet night.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

You're Not In Love, Charlie Brown

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day to all my readers!

I know a lot of people have problems with Valentine's Day, call it an excuse to buy cards and candy. Well...what's wrong with an excuse to buy cute cards and gorge on massive boxes of chocolates until you explode? You don't have to be in love to do that! ;)

Not that I did much for Valentine's Day. I did make myself a special Valentine's breakfast. I have some apples that are getting mushy, so I made Apple-Chocolate Chunk Wheat Pancakes. Other than that, I pretty much worked all day. Like yesterday, the Acme was steady but not incredibly busy except for during the 4PM-5PM rush hour. We had some large orders, but it was mostly couples buying Valentine's dinners, men buying cards and bouquets of roses and carnations, and mothers buying candy and novelties for their kids.

There was some trouble in my last hour or so. Two customers brought up several jars of Emil's Vodka Sauce with popped tops that were going bad and said there were more on the shelf. Unfortunately, they were right. Not only that, but the jars must have been there for a while, because the ones they brought back didn't smell pretty. I felt for the bagger who had to retrieve the other popped jars, then take the whole lot back to the trash area. (Oh, and the customers DID finally find some jars in good shape.)

Less than 20 minutes later, a man came around with some gum and a check he needed to cash. It didn't seem out of order, and the check did go through. I should have taken a more thorough look at the check, because a few minutes later, one of the managers came up to me and told me a customer was cashing starter checks, and we're not allowed to do that. The check she showed me was exactly the same as the one he gave me, with handwriting in the corner. I felt like such a fool. I can't believe I let that guy take me in. I thought I was so much wiser than that.

Needless to say, I was feeling a little down when I got home. Watching all those men buying flowers didn't help, either. I knew there would be no man with bundles of roses and carnations waiting for me at home. I sometimes miss having someone care for me that way. I haven't dated in four years. I just haven't really met anyone, and it's nobody's fault but mine.

Calling Mom helped a lot. She, Dad, and Keefe really busy right now settling into their new home in Erma. Apparently, they got rid of a lot of furniture before they moved. Some of it wasn't in good shape; other pieces didn't fit into their smaller house. She'd spent the last few weeks scouring Atlantic and Cape May Counties for new items and completely forgot about Valentine's Day. She did sound like she was in a good mood. My brother went away with a friend for President's Day Weekend and Daddy's on a fishing trip, so she had some rare time to herself.

I ate a Smart Ones Chicken Oriental meal while watching two rarely-seen, romance-themed Peanuts specials Mom sent me in the big box that came last week. Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown concerns the gang's preparations for Snoopy's big day when he falls head over paws for a pretty poodle. You're In Love, Charlie Brown is an early story that deals with Charlie Brown's eternal devotion to the Little Red-Haired Girl and his attempts to get her to notice him right before summer vacation.

As cute as Snoopy's Getting Married is, You're In Love really hit a sensitive spot with me. I WAS Charlie Brown as a kid. Yes, I'm female, I have hair, and while I did have crushes, I never felt as passionate about any boy in grade school as Chuck did about his beloved red-haired lass. Even so, I went through a lot of the same things he did in throughout my grade school years. "Friends" tormented me as much as enemies. Kids would call me names walking home and in the playground, and I was seldom invited to join sports or outdoor games. I often ate alone, wondering why the other kids didn't want to eat with me and figuring it was my fault. I still sound like Charlie Brown to this day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All Rain, No Shine

Once again, I was awoken by the Acme asking me to come in. Could I come in early, at 10:30 instead of 2:30? I finally agreed to 11:30. I'd just gotten up!

So, once again, I spent most of the day at work. I never got to yoga, taxes, or laundry, which had been my plans for today. I work at 12:30 tomorrow, so my laundry is probably going to have to wait until Friday, which means I won't get to my taxes until Saturday. Work was dead most of the day except for the 4-5PM rush hour. No major problems. Most people were stocking up for the Presidents' Day Weekend or buying Valentines gifts and cards for their families and sweethearts.

It rained steadily for most of the day, though I think it's gone now. It was gloomy, humid, and relatively warm for this time of year (upper 40s-lower 50s, I think). The day wasn't fun for me, either. I didn't really want to be at work, and I got a nasty headache shortly after arriving that hasn't gone away completely.

My friend Rita Widmer did send me a few cool items, though, two vintage Nancy Drew books (the real ones from the 40s) and several pictures from That's Entertainment, Part III. Thanks, Rita!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Libraries On Ice

Urgh. Another long and frustrating day, though this time I actually managed to get some things done. Not surprisingly, given how often it's happened in the past few weeks, I was awaken by the Acme calling me in at 10AM. This time, though, I said no. I wanted to get some things done, and I didn't like the sound of the weather. It was supposed to snow and possibly sleet later in the day, and I didn't want to be riding home from work in it.

After I hung up, I spent at least a half-hour laying in my bed feeling guilty. On one hand, there was the weather to consider, and the fact that my last day off was Thursday and my next day off isn't until Saturday. Maybe it was babyish, but I didn't think I could last more than a week without a day off again. Besides, I really wanted to send some Valentine's Day items and my stepfather's birthday present.

On the other hand, I really shouldn't have turned them down. They might consider me unreliable and not ask me anymore. When you need help, you need help. Not to mention, the extra money would be nice, especially since it's rare that I'm not broke at this time of year. It's selfish to not help people out when they ask. You can't think of yourself all the time. You have to consider other people.

I finally talked myself out of calling Donna back to say I changed my mind. I did want to make it to the post office and bank, if nothing else. I spent the rest of the morning after my breakfast of banana pancakes signing cards, writing checks for bills, and preparing Daddy's package.

The post office had a short line, but was otherwise no problems. The bank didn't even have that. It was dead as a doornail. I was in and out in less than five minutes.

It had been flurrying on and off since the morning, but nothing serious. I figured, since the snow seemed to be holding off, that I'd go do my library volunteering and run a few errands.

Big mistake. I ran into some tree branches trying to slow my bike while riding down the hill the Westmont Plaza's on. Thankfully, other than a few scratches on my nose, I stayed on my bike and my glasses were fine (the branches pushed them down when I ran into them).

The bike didn't wear so well. Much to my horror, I discovered when I got to the library that the wire for the back brakes had gotten twisted and popped off. I've been so terrible to my bikes. They're both getting rusty because I haven't gotten tarps for them yet. I'm surprised nothing like this has happened sooner. I'm a very irresponsible person. I should learn to take care of things better. (And of course, the area's only bike repair shop wasn't open today.)

Much to my surprise, the library was busy when I entered. Since the kids weren't out of school yet, I assume people were avoiding the weather or getting something to read and watch just in case the snow got worse. The librarians were too busy to talk to me or give me an assignment, so I just put the children's DVDs in order again. I was disappointed that I never got a chance to ask them about where they went to college and how they financed it.

The snow DID get worse as I headed back out. I made my usual stops at AC Moore (their Valentine's decorations were almost gone and there was nothing good left), Super Fresh (icing for the cake I was going to make the family here; also got some cardboard Easter cutouts for my walls), and the dollar store (Valentine's Day cards).

The snow had picked up as I entered AC Moore, and by the time I made my way home, it was sticking. It changed to stinging sleet and frozen rain around the time I hit the White Horse Pike. I stopped at 7-11 really quick for a hot chocolate and soft pretzel. (Thank goodness the Mint Hot Chocolate machine actually had hot chocolate in it this time!). I wish I could have stayed there. I slipped and slid half-way down West Clinton Avenue before I finally decided the sidewalks were too treacherous to be walking on and hit the street instead. The less-used Manor Avenue was even worse. The road was just as slippery as the sidewalk there. I was taking as small of steps as possible and still move. I touched a car; the rivulets of rain water were frozen solid. I was one big icicle when I finally got in my apartment. I had ice EVERYWHERE, from my green knitted hat to my sneakers.

Even my cake didn't turn out well. I wanted to make a strawberry cake and use up some frozen strawberries that were in my fridge for a while, but I put way too much water in the batter. The one-layer heart-shaped cake turned out well enough for me to frost, but no amount of baking could firm up the mushy cupcakes. I threw them in my freezer for later. I was going to give my biological dad, uncle, and their families and sweethearts' families a cupcake-cake platter, but they're just gonna have to settle on the cake.

Actually, I'm now glad I didn't go to work. Super Fresh was ghost-town quiet when I was in there, as was AC Moore. (The dollar store was slightly busier, probably because the kids had just gotten out of school at that point and were fishing around the store for cheap candy and junk.) At any rate, I suspect the Acme may have ended up not needing me anyway. Less than a half-hour after I finally got home, my porch was a sheet of solid ice. It started raining around 10, and while it isn't quite as bad as in the evening, it's still pretty icy out there.

Monday, February 11, 2008


What an annoying day. I woke up late and didn't get much done, I had to get a ride to and from work due to the 20-degree temperatures and lingering high winds, and work was a pain in the rear. We had long lines for most of the day, and we weren't even short-handed. We just didn't have enough help assigned. I got two of the WIC Checks wrong twice! The WIC Checks are are part of the state program used by mothers with babies and young toddlers to buy milk, cereal, juice, formula, and a few other essentials. The details of those "few other essentials," however, are constantly changing, far more than I or anyone can keep up with. I was told for over a year that mothers were only supposed to buy one 16-ounce block of cheese, not two 8-ounce blocks, and that they couldn't be the individually-wrapped processes stuff. A woman threw a fit when I pointed that out, then the manager let her take out the individually-wrapped ones anyway! Later, a woman bought two 8 ounce packages. I tried to tell her otherwise, but the (different) manager said she could have them. At least she was far more amiable about the whole thing.

(However, they haven't allowed Kellogg's Rice Krispies on the WIC Checks for years. Some generic brands, but not Kellogg's. I don't know why people keep insisting on bringing it to the counter.)

I called Mom and Dad this morning to wish the latter a Happy 52nd birthday. Dad was on his way out to work, but I did get to wish him well. I chatted a bit more with Mom. She wants me to seek out more financial aid, and says the only way I'll be able to pay for college is to be a college librarian because they make more money.

But I don't WANT to work for college libraries! I don't CARE about the money! I'll figure something out. I want to work with kids! I'll get a job in a college media center if possible because I have precious little experience doing anything else, but isn't there a way to do what I enjoy and pay to learn how to do it, too?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Till The Wind Rolls By

After a very late chat with my fellow WENN fans (thanks for the e-mail again, Linda!), I spent most of the morning sleeping. I did wake up in time to find that it was no day to be riding a bike. The wind was blowing fiercely, making the trees over my porch bend and creak. (I always know when the wind's blowing fiercely. I can hear the chimes on the house next door on windy days.) I first called my stepfather to wish him a happy birthday (it was yesterday), but he wasn't home. I switched on WOGL's "Brunch With the Beatles" show (love songs were the theme today) and called my biological father for a ride to work.

Work was crazy when I came in at 11:45, dead when I finished five hours later. A few annoying customers (including one fussy older woman who complained when I tried to bag her rotisserie chicken in double-plastic; she whined it was too hot when it really wasn't that bad), but the real problem was with the computers. Our credit card system acted weird all day. It ran slow on-and-off, would make people sign for debit cards, and wouldn't take gift cards at all. The gift card thing isn't good. Many people rely heavily on gift cards they've won in contests or school raffles to pay for their orders. (Which is why you should always bring two methods of payment whenever you do any kind of major shopping.)

I watched Till the Clouds Roll By while eating leftover Merlin's Magic Chicken, spinach salad, and wheat noodles. Clouds Roll By a biography of Jerome Kern. According to the Reel to Real featurette on the DVD, some incidents in the film (like the romantic way Kern met his wife Eva and his barely missing the doomed voyage of the Lustitania) really were taken from Kern's life, but two of the most important characters - the kindly, gruff arranger and his tempestuous daughter - were pure fiction.

Being a fan of musicals, one of the things I like about Clouds Roll By is how some of the songs in the film are seen in their original contexts, from the shows they first appeared in. The Marilyn Miller vehicle Sally, for instance, really did feature Miller as a dish-washing dreamer who becomes a Ziegfield star and introduced "Look For the Silver Lining". The later Miller vehicle Sunny really did have a circus setting and Miller singing "Who?" and "Do 'Ye Love Me?". All of the Show Boat songs in the opening are seen more-or-less as they would in the theater. Even Lucile Bremer and Van Johnson's delightful, energetic "I Won't Dance" duet has some basis in fact - the song was written for the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers version of the show Roberta. (A deleted scene also shows another true-to-life show performance. Kathryn Grayson and radio singer Johnny Johnston do two of the songs from the 1933 Kern operetta Music In the Air, which was partially set in a Tyrolean village, as we see in the sequence.)

On the other hand, despite some truly wonderful performances (check out Tony Martin's "All The Things You Are" and Lena Horne's "Why Was I Born?"), that finale is just way too much. Frank Sinatra may have liked "Ol' Man River" so much he concluded his later shows with it, but the younger, skinnier singer just looks silly singing it here. Evidently, with Kern having died during the filming, this was his way of paying tribute to him.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Workin' On the Register

I had a very, very long day. I worked 8 hours today, from 10AM to 6PM. I haven't had an 8-hour shift in months. I found out why I suddenly had a long shift from one of the younger managers (who normally doesn't work in the mornings at all) this morning - most of the regular morning and early afternoon people attended a party for one of the managers and weren't up to working after it!

On the other hand, long shifts tend to go quickly, and you do get two breaks. No major problems today, other than a lot of the kids who had just worked the late shift the night before weren't terribly happy about having to come in at 9 and 10 in the morning.

I went to the Wal-Mart after work to find a few birthday presents and have dinner at Subway. Unfortunately, my shopping luck seems to have run out. The Subway was dingy and staffed by annoying people with annoying accents who couldn't understand a word I said. I couldn't understand what they were saying, either, which meant it took me longer to get my dinner than it should have. (I think it shocked the guy that someone actually asked for a bag of apples instead of chips!)

My trip to Wal-Mart reminded me of why I normally avoid that store unless I desperately need something. It was busy and noisy, filled with obnoxious people who scream for their friends and children over your head, push past you without saying "excuse me," and never put anything away...and that's just the customers! The small-for-a-discount-chain store was a disaster area. Empty and half-full boxes sat on the floor, with no one tending to them. Many shelves had wide-open spaces, and even items that weren't on sale were far from overflowing. The prices weren't nearly as great as everyone likes to claim they are, either. I couldn't find one of the things I was looking for. (Doesn't ANYONE make plain old underwear briefs in a size 8 with colors? Not uncomfortable high-cuts or low-cuts or rises or bikinis, just briefs!) The other, the newly-released special edition of The Aristocats, was $19.99, the exact same price it was at FYE. I decided I'd rather get it at FYE, which hopefully would be quieter. I did get a few things at Wal-Mart, including decorator candies for the cupcakes I'm going to make for Valentine's Day, birthday cards for my adopted sister Jessa (the 13th) and my stepfather Bill (today - it'll go out early next week), and a birthday present.

(Oh, and I bought a box of the new Girl Scouts Lemon Shortbread cookies. I always try to buy at least one or two boxes of Girl Scout Cookies a year, and not just because they're genuinely tasty, either. My sisters Rose and Anny were Girl Scouts when they were younger, and they never really had much luck with cookie-selling in quiet Cape May. We'd have boxes sitting around for months!)

FYE was a breath of fresh air after stuffy, loud Wal-Mart. It was just me, the kid behind the register, and the ads for new releases on the TVs. I eyed a few of the new WebKinz on their displays (I want a black poodle), but finally opted for The Aristocats, another birthday gift, and three packs of the new Series 2 WebKinz Trading Cards.

I had more luck with the cards than with the shopping. I bought a pack of Series 1 cards yesterday and was rewarded with my first piece of Trading Card Furniture, the Game Theme Table. Tonight, I got a Ballet Study Desk, a Series 2 Trading Card Dresser, and money. (The last was most appreciated. I drained my finances a bit buying Linda the Collie clothes and setting up the Pizzeria.)

Mary the Reindeer got the desk in her very pink ballet-themed room. I haven't found a place for the Game Table or the Trading Card Dresser yet. I used the money to add an Air Hockey game to the mini-arcade in my pizzeria. (And it was fun, too. Now I'll be able to practice for when I get together with Lauren next summer! ;) )

Friday, February 08, 2008

Taxed Out

Didn't get a whole lot done today. I got up late, watched The Dolly Sisters, and tried to do my taxes. I wanted to do them online, but I had no idea the IRS didn't provide forms. Lauren sent me a free Turbo Tax link - maybe that'll help.

Work was steady-to-quiet, with no major problems and actually something good. I thought I was supposed to work until 7:30, but I must have written it down wrong, because the managers (and schedule) said 7. Cool. I got my grocery shopping done instead of putting it off until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Year of the Collie

First of all, Happy Chinese New Year! Abundant luck to all today!

Second, I certainly had abundant luck today. After Cherry-Banana Pancakes for breakfast, I went to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering. I did the biographies, which weren't TOO bad. I got out with plenty of time to ride over to Collingswood to browse in the thrift shop and the Collingswood Variety Store. Lunch was at the Pop Shop, a pastel 50's-themed diner situated in one half of Collingswood's old Acme. (A much fancier restaurant, Word of Mouth, is on the other half.) I had a wonderful "Farm Market Omelet" with roast veggies and swiss cheese, half of a gigantic slice of rye toast, and hash browns.

(Oh, and the Collingswood Variety Store has not only restocked their supply of WebKinz, but they now have clothes, too. I was VERY close to getting a Black Poodle; I also considered a husky.)

I told Scott about my heavy work-schedule over the past few weeks, Mom and Dad's move, the arrival of Mom's box, and my job research. Now that I know I want to go back to school, I have to figure out how to finance it. I'm far from rich, and I don't want to go as heavily into debt as Rose is.

After I left Scott, I took the Speedline into Philadelphia. For once, I knew what I wanted to get, and after a wrong turn or two, made my way to my favorite FYE on Broad Street to use the last of the $50 gift card Mom and Dad gave me for Christmas.

While their downstairs CD section was the same as always, the DVD section upstairs was a disaster area. The kids' DVDs, TV DVD sets, and war and western movies lay in messy stacks on the floor. From what I gathered from the employees, that particular FYE had just gotten a big stock of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs and had to rearrange everything to fit them in. It didn't make for easy shopping. I never found what I was looking for, which was the newly-released Perfect Strangers: The Complete First and Second Season, but I did take advantage of a buy 2 used items, get one half-off sale. I bought two classic musical "biopics," the MGM mega-musical 'Till The Clouds Roll By and the Betty Grable vehicle The Dolly Sisters. I picked up the new Bruce Springsteen CD Magic downstairs. (And it ended up being the half-off item, too - I got it for $4.99!)

I did manage to find Perfect Strangers during a brief visit to the Borders across the street. It was 20% off, too! Perfect Strangers is (other than one random Honeymooners tape I picked up in the thrift shop last year) the last TV show I have completely on video. Once we (finally) get all 8 seasons of PS, I will have cleared out my pre-recorded videos to the point where I'll hopefully be able to move a few to the other shelves and make room for DVDs!

I went in search of Locust Street to head for home, but I got turned around again and wound up on Chestnut. I wound up at the Chestnut Street entrance to the Liberty One Mall and, since that mall is very posh (lots of fancy dress shops; no toy stores or noisy electronics stores), I thought I'd see if they had a Lane Bryant so I could use the $100 gift card I got for Christmas.

I didn't see Lane Bryant, but I did find a lovely little card shop called Messages on a side hallway near Au Bon Pain. The store was an explosion of red and pink - so much, I almost missed the tall display of WebKinz as I walked in! I'm glad I didn't, though. They had many WebKinz I'd never seen anywhere in New Jersey - Lil'Kinz Horses, Basset Hounds, Polar Bears, and St. Bernards, Velvety Elephants, Ducks, Gray and White Cats, Yorkies, and...COLLIES! I'd been wanting to find a collie for ages, because I knew exactly what name I would give it. I bought a collie and a pack of Trading Cards and headed for Chestnut.

I got turned around one more time after that. I stopped at a Starbucks to get my bearings and a cup of Vanilla Latte, then made my way across Chestnut to Walnut, then Locust. By this point it was about 5; the rush hour was well at hand. Car honked, sirens blared, and people in heavy coats pushed their way through the crowds. Thankfully, the 16th and Locust PATCO stop was on a relatively quiet, largely residential block. I made it to the train and to Collingswood without incident (and even managed to find a seat on a stuffed-full rush hour train).

Since I went past their neighborhood going home, I dropped by Uncle Ken and Dad's on my way back to say "hi" and show them my new find. I ended up staying for a tasty dinner of chicken, creamed spinach, and mashed potatoes. I chatted a bit with Jodie, her teen son TJ, and Dad afterwards. Jodie and Dad are mostly concerned about my finances; going back to school is expensive, and they're worried I'll end up in debt. I really need to do more research on the cost before anyone worries further.

Oh yes, Linda the Collie! Yes, she's named after my friend Linda Young, who got me interested in WebKinz in the first place and loves all things collie! This means that naturally, she had to have a bookcase in her room. Her bio says she's a musician; perhaps I'll give her the piano, too.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

So, Where Is It?

Darn it, where's that thunderstorm we were supposed to get tonight?

It was supposed to rain in the afternoon. It looked like it all day, cloudy, humid, and warm for this time of year. I spent the morning doing laundry at Uncle Ken's. I watched The Wonder Pets save a Bald Eagle egg in Canada and a Flamingo in a coloring book (the uncle of the latter had a "Jamaican" accent, and even had dreadlocks and a bright knit cap!), then enjoyed a rather goofy superhero-themed Blue's Clues before Dad came home and wanted to watch The Weather Channel.

The Weather Channel said we were supposed to get severe thunderstorms starting late in the afternoon...when I work, of course. I finally asked Dad for a ride. I don't really care about the thunder, but I didn't want to be caught in a deluge. (I've done that enough.)

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday customer-wise - busy until dinner, steady-to-dead thereafter, with a lot of obnoxious beginning-of-the-month customers. (The worst was a very annoying woman who kept fussing that she wanted to buy her huge order before her elderly mother tried to pay for it, then complained when Mom showed up with more and claimed she was embarrassing her. Frankly, she was acting a LOT more embarrassing than her mom was!)

Actually, our biggest problem today was with the help. One of the teenage baggers went outside to do carts...and never came back. Half the store must have searched for him for at least 20 minutes before his car was discovered to be gone and he was assumed to have gone AWOL.

On the other hand, I saw a gaggle of new cashiers being trained this evening. Their arrival is a mixed blessing. On one hand, they were mostly teenagers and college students, and that should take care of a lot of late shifts. On the other hand...I've been getting really GOOD hours for this time of year in the last few weeks or so. We'll see what king of impact they have.
Magic In The Kitchen!

As requested by Tina, here's Merlin's Famous Magic Chicken!

(This is repeated from The Mickey Mouse Cookbook without permission.)

1 teaspoon shortening
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces

Preheat the oven to 425. Grease a baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, with the shortening.

Put the flour, paprika, and salt in a clean plastic or paper bag with no holes in it. Twist or close top of bag, then shake to mix the ingredients.

Place 2 or 3 chicken pieces in the bag. Twist or slide it closed again and hold it while you shake the bag to coat the chicken with the flour mixture.

Repeat the shaking until you've coated all the chicken pieces. Place them side by side in the baking pan, skin sides up.

Bake for 55 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown on the outside and tender when you stick a fork into the thickest piece.

Serves 4

Mom's biscuits and carrots tasty but optional. ;)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hearts and Flowers and Working Days

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon at work. It was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday. We're probably still getting a lot of beginning-of-the-month people who avoided the weekend because of Super Bowl Sunday. There's a lot of big sales leftover from the Super Bowl weekend, too. The worst that happened, other than long lines due to lack of help, was my relief was late. (And this kid knows to at least call...)

When I got in, I put the rag rug I keep in my room out to air, then finished off the cleaning. Didn't really do a lot of dusting or vacuuming. It was getting late by the time I finished, and I wanted to eat a decent dinner for once. After I had my Merlin's Magic Chicken, sweet potato, and spinach salad, I put up the Valentine's decorations. I have more than I thought; all I need is something for the front door.

Oh, and Lauren and I started this month's role-play yesterday. It's a fairly simple story; how long it takes depends on our schedules. I'm going to say it'll likely be done sometime towards the middle of next week.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Finding A Way Out Of The Black Hole

Most of my day was devoted to cleaning, calling, and research. I called Rose this morning; she was in a class, so I did my first cleaning of the month instead. I got the kitchen and the bathroom done. The kitchen wasn't horrible, but the bathroom was pretty bad, and I'd like to get the Valentine's Day decorations up soon. Janice from the Acme called as I finished. Could I work tomorrow from 10:30AM to 3:30AM? Fine, I didn't have anything major planned for tomorrow.

Rose called back as I finished up the kitchen. First of all, between her law school classes and her broken car, we won't be going anywhere together for a while. Second, she reminded me that I need to take the Graduate Record Examinations, and that such things are expensive. Her similar test for Law School apparently cost $1,500! That scared me to death. Going to school is expensive enough. I'm not paying that much for one class.

I went online and checked the GRE's website. I tried to tell Rose that law school is something entirely different from regular graduate school, and this proves it. The general test was $140 minus fees. (And even with the fees only added up to a little over $500.) Either way, it's not a thousand. There's a testing center in Philadelphia on Chestnut Street and another in Deptford, near the mall.

I wonder if I could find someone who's been to graduate school recently for library sciences and find out how much it cost, how long it took, and whether or not it's even worth it? I am NOT going into further debt for an education that will get me nowhere. If Rose wants to be buried in debt for the rest of her life, that's on her.

Work was steady-to-busy until after the 4PM rush hour, when it died down to nothing.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Giant Super Bowl Sunday

I slept later than I'd planned this morning and was almost late for work, which wasn't a good thing. They needed everyone they could get. Work was an absolute MADHOUSE today, even worse when I left than when I arrived. We were short on help (my break was late) and I got out somewhat late because of the long lines, but other than that, there were no major problems. I grabbed icing and cherry preserves for my Cocoa-Cherry Checkerboard Cake, the last of the Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Shredded Wheat (I love Kashi's Shredded Wheat cereals), and a box of Duncan Hines White Cake Mix on sale for a dollar. (I like to keep white cake mixes around for when I get baking urges; they use egg whites and are lower-fat than most cake mixes besides angel food.)

When I got home, I changed shirts, put the cherry preserves between cake layers, frosted the outside of the cake, and headed over to Uncle Ken's for his big Super Bowl party. Everyone was there when I arrived - Dolores and her family, Uncle Ken, Dad, Jodie, Samantha and her family, several neighbors. The breakfast island in the kitchen was laden with dinner goodies - appetizers, brownies, granola cookies, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, Dad's famous chili, a meat-and-cheese deli tray, soda, and liquor for the adults who enjoy that sort of thing.

My cake was a huge hit...and so was the game. Unlike most Super Bowls, where one team tends to dominate the entire four quarters and the commercials are often the most interesting things seen all night, the Giants wouldn't give the Patriots' much-vaunted offense a chance to get going. (And the commercials, except for one really cute one involving a Clydesdale and a dalmatian, were a total snooze.) The Patriots were ahead 7-3 by halftime, but I was starting to doze off. After the totally rocking Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert (I really need to find my Heartbreakers Greatest Hits CD), I was ready to go home.

I don't know how coherent Jodie was, but she did tell me in the car on the way home that she and Dad were willing to help me finance school and that they're both afraid I'll end up in worse debt than Rose is now. I'm still going to send in my Financial Aid form, but I appreciate the offer. We'll see what happens.

(I didn't find out until later, but incidentally, the Giants apparently made a huge play in the final moments of the fourth quarter to end the Patriots' perfect season and win the Super Bowl 17-14.)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Delights and Disappointments

There was a heavy "thump" and an "oof!" next to my door this morning as I ate my oatmeal and tangelo for breakfast. I opened my door and saw the back of a retreating mailman...and a HUGE box sitting on my porch! There was a pretty marker design of trees on the front...and Mom's new address. I hauled it in and ripped it open.

First out was Dulcinea, also known as Dulcie, Rose's old Cabbage Patch Kid. She wore her original blue and white calico dress and white t-strap shoes. (Poor dear's legs must be cold, though. Mom couldn't find the matching bloomers and socks.) She was perfectly clean, and her bright red-orange yarn hair was in a ponytail. Mom said she gave Dulcie a bath in warm Clorox, soap, and water. Her hair was washed separately in dish washing liquid (to keep it from losing it's color). She and Carrie now sit together on my bed. Looking at them side-by-side, I now realize Carrie could use a bath, too...

What made the box so heavy (other than the sheer number of items sent) were two big tins and a pile of books. One tin held the (now slightly outdated) The Wonderful World of Disney Trivia Game. The other was also Disney-related and held several bear-related items and a bag of hair clips and barrettes. Unfortunately, the larger tin did not survive the trip undamaged. It was bent out of shape in several places, and my attempts at fixing it only broke it along the spine. Sigh. I'm going to have to get rid of it. I really liked that tin, too. Mom got it mail-order from the (long defunct) Disney Channel Magazine sometime in the mid-80s. The pictures along the side depict three animated Disney movies set in old England - Alice In Wonderland, Robin Hood, and The Sword In the Stone. The pictures aren't that accurate, especially for Robin Hood, but the tin is big, cute, colorful, and it's been around for so long that I'm going to miss it.

My favorites, though, were the pile of old cake decorating books Mom sent. Her hardback Wilton Celebrate! books (she has II through V) date back to 1975. (Some of the coolest cake designs in Celebrate! II honor Americana, the Bicentennial, and "Makers of America," the different countries and people who helped make the US what it is today.) She also has five paperback Wilton books dating from 1979 (the year I was born!) to 1983. I have so many fond memories of these books. They're not in great shape, especially the paperbacks, but my sisters and I loved looking at them, making up stories about the elaborate decorations and dreaming of the ones we'd have for our next birthday or special event. (It's obvious which cakes we loved the most. Those pages are more dog-eared, worn, and ripped than the others.)

(To be honest, most of the cake designs in those books were so fancy, they never really made it to our parties. One major exception was the Little Women. One of the books, Celebration III, I think, showed four doll cakes depicting the four title characters of the famous Louisa May Alcott novel. I badly wanted Jo one year and begged Mom so hard, she finally gave in. The end product didn't really look much like the picture, but she WAS pretty and quite well-made - and tasty, too. Rose had a nifty Jack-and-Jill-themed cake a year later that also came out of Celebration III.)

The biggest surprise was The Mickey Mouse Cookbook. Though it apparently was released in 1975, I know it's been in our various kitchens since at least the mid-80s. All of the Disney animated characters up to that point headline different recipes, ranging from very simple (Dumbo's Peanut Butter Sandwich is peanut butter, bread, and...whatever you can put on peanut butter and bread) to "ask for an adult to help you" (recipes for larger items like cakes and meatloaf). The unqualified winner, though, is Merlin's Magic Chicken. Merlin from The Sword and the Stone conjures up an easy "not-fried" chicken dish - dredge chicken pieces in flour and paprika, put in greased pan, and bake! Merlin's Magic Chicken was such a smash hit with my entire family, we looked forward to when Mom made it in the winter, often accompanied by her heavenly home-made biscuits. (Even now, mentions of Merlin bring not magic but magically delicious chicken legs to mind!)

I called Mom to thank her for the gifts after I finished my tangelo. When I asked her why she sent me The Mickey Mouse Cookbook when I knew Dad and Keefe still love Merlin's, she said she'd committed all her favorite recipes from the book to memory years ago and thought I might like some Merlin's of my own!

I headed to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering after I put everything away. I did the children's DVDs again. Lord, they do get scrambled. I made a very quick stop at Super Fresh afterwards to grab some milk (which I forgot to get last night at work when I did most of my grocery shopping) and ran home to get ready for my outing with my sister Rose.

I called Rose when I got in. She was a bit frazzled when she picked up. Seems she had a big report she'd put off that was due in a few weeks. Could we get together later in the day? No problem. I spent the rest of the afternoon making my first Checkerboard Cake (out of a white cake mix and a cocoa cake batter from scratch mixed with cherries) and watching The Yogi Bear Show.

I was looking at my cake books around quarter after 6 when I realized it was getting late and Rose hadn't called. I finally called her. She said she'd been trying to call me for hours but hadn't gotten through. It turns out she'd tried to come over, but her car broke down, and her boyfriend - and his car - weren't around. Could we go out some other time?

It's not fair. I'm still a little upset. I'd been looking forward to this mall trip since she suggested it earlier in the week. I put off going to the movies with Erica so we could get together. Instead of getting together with two friends, I ended up alone again. I thought she'd gotten the damn car fixed or replaced ages ago! Why does this stuff always happen to me?

I finally decided I had to eat, and since I had nothing out and had eaten the last of my leftovers for lunch, I went over to Dad and Uncle Ken's to see if anyone was home. Thankfully, Dad, Jodie, and Jessa were eating pizza in the kitchen and watching (appropriately) Groundhog Day. I chatted with them for a little while, nibbling on a slice of pizza, but I'd sampled waaaayyy too much cake batter and wasn't really hungry. I told them about my college hopes; Dad said I really should consider how I'm going to get to school if the trains and buses aren't running. (But don't they always run, especially in a city?)

I went to Family Dollar to see if they had any frosting for my cake, but all they had was chocolate. I just got a homecoming card for Mom and the family in Cape May County. Went across the street to WaWa and couldn't decide on a treat that wouldn't ruin my diet, so I ended up putting Raspberry and Vanilla syrups into Coca Cola Zero. (I want to save my Weight Watchers points for Uncle Ken's Super Bowl party tomorrow night.)

Going online after I got home cheered me up a little bit. I especially enjoyed reading about all the funny bloopers that occurred to the members of the AdultKinz forum!

I really wish I was more outgoing. "Go join a book club!" Rose said in exasperation when I told her I was feeling lonely. She can say that. She wants to be a lawyer. She's being trained to talk to people and know what to say. I'm scared to death of clubs! I never know what to say to people, I live in fear of being stared at and made fun of, and what kind of clubs do single 28-year-olds who don't like bars join, anyway? I wish there was an easier way to meet people my own age and interests. I'm so scared there isn't anyone else in this area my own age with my interests. If I try to talk to Mom, she'll just remind me we've had this discussion a thousand times. I know we have, doesn't stop the fear.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Rhythm of the Rain

It's a good thing I had no outdoor plans today. It poured the entire morning. And I don't just mean a half an inch and then it's cloudy. It deluged from when I got up at 8:30AM until around 1PM, and intermittently after that. I spent most of that time looking up and downloading the Financial Aid sheet. Now, I just need to find out when and where the testing for graduate school around here is. I hope it's not in Camden.

I did get some pilates in before Dad picked me up for work. It's the beginning of the month, a Friday, and the weekend of the Super Bowl, so we were mega-busy up until about 6:30. A lot of annoying people, too. People keep reading the signs wrong. (You really DO need to buy six packs to get the Canada Dry sale!) The people buying stuff for chop shops in Camden were out in full-force, too. I really do hope they work on better legislature to crack down on these people. We're losing valuable money and merchandise because they can't afford to buy from a warehouse like everyone else.