Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stormy Weather

Despite the humidity, on-and-off sun, and threat of storms and (of all things) tornadoes, I headed out for my usual Saturday chores this morning. I was early enough to be able to browse in Collingswood and attend several yard sales after I did the Farm Market and the bank. The Farm Market was as busy as it always is. Like me, people probably opted to come early and avoid the nasty forecast. I didn't really need much today. I just bought strawberries, broccoli, mushrooms, celery, and a shallot for the beet soup I'm hoping to make tomorrow.

I didn't have much luck with the yard sales today. One couple did have records and cassettes, but despite my hovering over him, a guy got there just before I did...and, in full view of me, bought the whole lot before I could look at them!

I did get some good records in Collingswood. I finally found some more children's records at the Collingswood Library. I picked up two more Disney book-and-records (a 1960 version of Bambi and a 1964 retelling of Mary Poppins with lovely, angular full-color pictures), and a short adaptation of A Christmas Carol done by children's record company Peter Pan (I actually remember my sisters and I having Peter Pan records in the early 80s). My favorite find was the 1970 Original Cast Album for Sesame Street, complete with an orange Oscar, a scruffy Big Bird, Gordon with hair, and the first recordings of "Rubber Duckie" and "The People In My Neighborhood." I also picked up what appears to be a mid-late 50s Rosemary Clooney album, Swing Around Rosie.

I made a quick stop at the thrift shop next to say "hi" to my friend Erica. Most of the records they get at Friends In Deed are old obscure disco and R&B singles and leftovers from the days of Philadelphia International Records, but they do occasionally get some genuine cool albums. I picked up Lou Rawls, 70s Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, post-Keith Moon The Who, and Gary Stevens' 22 Good Guy Oldies, a collection of 50s and 60s hits.

I tried a few more yard sales on my way home, getting lost on my way to one, but found nothing of interest. It was getting darker and darker, and the wind was getting worse. I stopped at Doria's Deli around the corner from me for eggs, turkey, brown sugar, and a diet Wild Cherry Pepsi. On my way home, it started to rain lightly. Thankfully, I was inside by the time the thunder and lightning began.

I called Dad and Uncle Ken for a ride, but I got Jessa. Apparently, everyone was either out with friends, out at work, or just out. I finally decided to ignore the rain and ride to work. Though it did rain on my way and I did get wet, the thunder and lighting had passed and the rain itself was lessening. By the time I got out of work, the clouds were receding, the wind was slower, and there was nothing left of the storm but puddles.

Work was on-and-off busy, to be expected on a day when the weather was on-and-off. We had a few annoying beginning-of-the-month customers. One group of ladies kept trying phone number after phone card number in order to get more than three of the Bryers Ice Cream that's on sale 3 for $7. When a card's been in the system for a very, very long time, the phone number will often be lost or deleted. (My card hasn't been in the system for years. I got it when I was about 16. Lord only knows what number I used.) I don't know what they wanted all that ice cream for, anyway. That must have been some party!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tooth Talkin'

I had my dental appointment today. I had a few fillings put in and a cleaning. Other than I needed those blasted needles again, it was no big deal and didn't take very long. I was in and out in less than an hour. It's also my last appointment until late August. Dr. Hyder gave me a toothbrush-like tool with a rounded brush that sticks out like one of those individual floss things you buy in bags at the store. She says it's for cleaning around the really bad molars on my right side and to help them heal.

It was so gorgeous (and I was feeling so good about being done with the dentist for three months), I went for a walk after I got out. The sky was a beautiful blue, it was warm but not humid, and it was windy enough that it wasn't killer-hot. I had a pleasant walk down to Manor and up Kendall Boulevard, all over my neighborhood.

Not surprisingly, given the gorgeous weather and this being the end of the month, work was steady-to-dead, with no personnel problems. I had one very annoying older woman who had almost every single item in her cart in produce bags and kept fussing about double-bagging her groceries. (Her son was a big guy. I'm sure he could have handled it.)

Oh, and I just posted this month's Monkees Role-Play story, the comedy "The Car Trip." We'll hopefully be starting the next one on Tuesday and will try to be more on schedule with the stories now that Lauren is settling into her new home.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

All In The Family

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today, sunny, blue skies, warm but not hot or humid, and still a little windy but not crazy. I began my only day off this week with a laundry run. Uncle Ken had visitors when I arrived. Uncle Ken's daughter Samantha brought over some donations for Jessa's school, and also brought over her 2-year-old daughter Faith to see her grandpa. Faith was totally adorable. She's getting so big now. She knows her numbers (at least up to 4 - she recognized the 4 under the front door), she can jump and run, she's talking very well for her age, and she loves climbing into chairs and hugging her mommy. She loved the flowers Dad gave her, too.

Uncle Ken treated all of the adults to Italian hoagies from Doria's Deli. Mine was delicious! I really should get hoagies from them more often. Faith had a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich on a potato roll, but she didn't eat much of it. (Two-year-olds don't like it when their routines are out-of-order.) I left shortly after they did. (I didn't have much laundry today.)

After I put my laundry away, I headed over to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session. I did the DVDs again. I was able to do them in peace this time. I got there right as most schools were letting out...and it was really too gorgeous of a day to hang out in a library. After I finished, I made a quick stop at Super Fresh for conditioner, then went for a long bike ride in Newton River Park.

As I rode past the CVS on my way home, I felt something sticky hit the back of my legs. I definitely smelled ketchup. I still haven't figured out how my leg, sock, shoe, and shorts got ketchup on them. One of the workers from the car wash or the auto showroom must have had a messy hamburger for lunch, or someone from the sports bar on the next block was toting a lunch home that got away from them. Thankfully, I had planned on making a quick stop at Uncle Ken's again anyway to pick up the pan that had the rest of my pineapple cake from Memorial Day. I was able to clean up there.

I took a lovely walk after dinner. It was too beautiful of a day to be inside. The leaves on the trees are big and green now, and the rose bushes are in full bloom. I wasn't the only one out and about, either. I saw many families walking dogs or playing in their yards. Kids walked or rode bikes with friends, or went for a treat at Leo's Yum Yums on West Clinton Avenue. I could hear what sounded like a softball game as I passed the Oaklyn Elementary School.

I just finished a chat with Lauren. We discussed our upcoming stories and our September vacation. We'll hopefully be starting the next story this Tuesday. Her brother is visiting June 23rd, and we'll need to get it done before then.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good Clean Fun

I got a lot done today. It was a gorgeous day when I woke up this morning, cooler than it has been but not so cold it doesn't feel like May. I was up early enough for once to get a lot of chores in, some of which I've been meaning to do for as much as three months. I went for a walk to CVS after breakfast to buy some mouth wash and also picked up a WebKinz I haven't seen much of anywhere else. After I came home, I swept the porch and cleaned my two plastic porch chairs and the blue milk crate I use for a porch table, then removed the cover from the air conditioner and scrubbed that. I baked cookies and put up patriotic decorations and four small posters (the three That's Entertainment III pics Rita sent me and the African Queen photo I bought in Philly). The Entertainment stills went up in the living room, over the DVD shelves and the TV; Hepburn and Bogart guard the entrance to the Back Room in my bedroom.

Work wasn't even a problem this evening. It was steady, with no call-outs and no troublesome customers. (It'll be busier next week, which is the beginning of June. In addition to their usual money, many people who sent in their tax returns at the last minute have checks coming.)

Oh, and Lauren and I finished this month's Monkees role-play tonight, a goofy vacation-themed story. Look for it within the next few days! (And don't worry, it's the whole story this time - and next month's should be more on schedule.)

And meet Nesmith, the WebKinz Pinto and my second member of the "Webbies," my WebKinz Monkees. Nesmith, of course, is Mike Nesmith, the strong-willed, independent group leader and guitarist. Naturally, he's living with Davy in the Webbies' Pad. I used the money he came with to make my first front yard with some of the many outdoor items I've received with pets and from the Trading Cards lately. The Lurking Lagoon, Elephant Fountain, and Circle of Friends Topiaries are ringed with lovely bunches of irises. Iris gardens were on sale at the W Shop, and the deep purple colors ended up looking quite nice with the Lurking Lagoon and the Antique Lamps (I moved the second one from the Kinzville Farmer's Market).

(And yes, I found a wool hat for Mike. He got one of the blue snowflake toques from the Winterfest. Close enough. ;) )

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Breaking the Thunder Barrier

Whoa. The thunder I heard an hour ago was so deafening, I screamed in surprise! I'm surprised I didn't have a heart attack. Thought it still raining, the worst of the storm seems to be over. Other than the storm has possibly been making my Internet slow, I don't mind. Hopefully, Yahoo!Weather is right and temperatures and humidity will drop once the storm passes. It's too early for that.

Other than the weather, I had a rather uneventful day. Spent most of it baking bread and finishing up The Muppet Show: The Complete Season Three. The Muppet Show was at the height of its popularity when this season ran in 1977-1978, and it shows. We get three new characters (Beauregard the none-too-bright stagehand, Annie Sue Pig the young singer, and Lew Zealand the boomerang fish-thrower), one new major skit (Fozzie and Link Hogthrob's "Bear On Patrol"), and far more assurance, both in the wonderful, zany numbers and the actual onstage effects. We also have more recognizable guest stars. In fact, the only third season guests I'd never heard of before I bought this set were country singer Roy Clark and eccentric British comedian Spike Milligan.

Ironically, Milligan appeared in one of my favorite episodes of the season, the hilarious spoof of all-star International specials and programs. (I loved the "It's a Small World" number at the end - that song drives me crazy!) Other favorite episodes were Gilda Radner (always happy to see my favorite early member of Saturday Night Live - she was really stuck on Beaker), Pearl Bailey and the "everything but Camelot number, the sweet western-themed show honoring King and Queen of the Cowboys Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Sylvester Stallone and his groupies, Alice Cooper trying to get the Muppets to sell their souls (lots of fun with Cooper's spooky image there), and Miss Piggy and Charlie's Angel Cheryl Ladd beating up on Kermit as they "Enjoy Being A (Liberated 70s) Girl."

The extras were equally fascinating, if too brief. There was a short featurette covering the Muppeteers, a reel of early 60s Purina Dog Chow Commercials featuring Rolf and Baskerville the Dogs, and a really cool black-and-white special from 1968 featuring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, writer/Muppeteer Jerry Juhl, Muppet builder Don Solin, and several early Muppets, including Rolf and Kermit. The educational special was made for the ancestor of PBS and looks and sounds it (the copy Disney dug up actually had missing audio), but was still very informative and fun to watch. If nothing else, it was neat to learning about puppets around the world and see a side of the Muppets that isn't often shown today.

Work was busy and short on help; two kids called out, both too busy with school sports and events to work. One called out an hour before her shift! They did manage to find at least one replacement, but I really wish they'd emphasize the need for these kids to learn to manage their schedules better. If you want to work, work. If you want to do sports and after-school activities, do that. If you can't do both at once, don't. Either drop the sports and after-school events, or drop work until the summer. That's really why I never worked in high school. I wasn't sure if I could handle it. (That and I couldn't find a job.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tropical Summer Cake

And here's my recipe for the cake I brought to Mark and Vanessa's barbecue! Try it for your next summer get-together.

Pina Colada Cake

1 Box White Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines, but any will do)
2 tbsp Canola Oil
1/4 cup drained applesauce
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
8 oz can crushed pineapple in juice
3 oz box Limited Edition Pina Colada Jello Mix (If you can't find it, use pineapple and/or orange flavors)
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup water

Grease your choice of pan as shown on box. (I used a 13x9-inch rectangular pan with a cover because it was for a party.)

Add oil, applesauce, and eggs as on box. Mix until smooth, then add pineapple and juice, Jello, coconut, and water. Mix until moist. Pour batter into pan of choice and bake as directed on cake mix box.

You can frost the cake with your favorite vanilla or coconut frosting. I left it plain because I didn't have the time to frost it.
Saluting Those Who Served Our Country

First of all, Happy Memorial Day to all those who served our country...and those who still are.

Second, I had a lovely day. After breakfast, I went to Oaklyn's Memorial Day Parade. The "parade" ended up being the American Legion, the VFW, and the Fire Department. (Maybe everyone else thought it was going to rain, after the weather we've had all week?) Since the parade was only ten minutes and I had at least two hours before work, I walked down to Uncle Ken's house to see what they were doing today. Uncle Ken and Dolores were on the porch. Uncle Ken told me they were going to his son Mark and Mark's girlfriend Vanessa's house for a Memorial Day barbecue and I was welcome to join them after work.

I told them I would and went straight home after that to make a Pina Colada cake for the barbecue. Less than 10 minutes after the cake came out of the oven, I was on my way to work. Work, thank goodness, was absolutely no trouble whatsoever. It was busy, but that's to be expected on the first major holiday of the summer season.

Jodie picked me up shortly after I came home, and we headed for the barbecue. I had a great time. Mark and Vanessa made barbecue chicken, ribs, and corn, potato salad, baked beans, cut melon with sweet cream cheese dressing, and a simpler spice cake. I enjoyed everything, even a little of the potato salad, which I don't normally eat.

After dinner, I went outside to watch Jessa and Vanessa's daughter Brittany play badminton. The girls were absolutely hilarious. It was still windy, and every five minutes, one girl or the other would hit the birdie into the next-door neighbor's yard and have to retrieve it. (Good thing their neighbor didn't appear to be home.)

Mark, Vanessa, Dad, and Jodie eventually joined us. Jodie, Vanessa, Jessa, and Britt played badminton, then volleyball when they got tired of chasing the wayward birdie. When Jodie finally got tired of playing, I joined Vanessa for a round, then played the girls on my own. That was fun! I haven't played volleyball since high school. I miss it. I'm slow to go after the ball, but I have a killer serve.

After the girls got tired of volleyball, we went inside for cake. Mark showed Jodie and me his collection of tropical fish, which he breeds, including a huge and gorgeous angel fish.

I had a fun day. I hope this bodes well for the rest of the summer! ;)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another One On The Way

Despite half my customers claiming they were going to stay closer to home this year due to high gas prices, they must have heeded Mother Nature and ignored their fuel tanks (and their wallets). Except for one spurt around 5-5:30, the Acme was steady-to-dead today. No major problems, either, not even call-outs. Mother Nature must have felt the need to make up for the dreadful weather we had last week. Today was absolutely, positively perfect. It was warm, sunny, windy but not yesterday's gale-force winds, without a cloud in the blue sky. I had a fantastic ride to and from work, and a lovely walk right before I left for work, too.

I spent most of the morning finally talking to Mom. She confirmed that yes, my sister Anny is pregnant with her second child, and yes, she and her current boyfriend Mike do seem to be serious about possibly getting married, for Skylar and the upcoming child's sake if nothing else. Mom was in an excellent mood. Dad was on a fishing trip and Keefe was at Anny's, helping Mike with some patio work, so she had some rare time at home to herself. It would seem all of Anny's friends are in the midst of having and/or raising children, keeping Mom as busy knitting as she prefers.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Fair Affair

As it turned out, my customers were right about the weekend weather. When I got up this morning, it was still windy, but sunny with the occasional fat, white cloud in the sky. I grabbed some bags and rode over to Collingswood for their annual May Fair, held the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend. This is basically an extension of the Farm Market (which is blended into it for this Saturday), with tons of food booths, crafts, games, rides, bands, and a classic car show in addition to the usual fruit, vegetables, and flowers.

By the time I arrived around quarter of 11, there were also tons of people. I could barely walk around, much less check out the booths. I first made my way over to the Friends In Deed thrift shop to say "hi" to my friend Erica, who returned there after her job at a museum in Philadelphia ended. She looked and sounded great in her cute new bobbed hair-do. The thrift shop was hopping, but there was nothing there I could carry home on the bike, so I moved on.

My next stop were the Farm Market booths, which were on Leeds Avenue for the fair day. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the farm market was a half-hour from closing (they still close at noon, though the rest of the fair continues until 4PM). Many of the things I needed were gone, but I was still able to pick up sweet potatoes, fresh basil, baby spinach, leeks, and honey.

I still had a little time before work, so I continued on. The fair thinned out a bit as I got further down Haddon Avenue and the booths were fewer in number. I found the kids' area towards the end of the Haddon Avenue Historic District. Most of the attractions in the kids' area was stuff I could have done in Wildwood - water gun games, cute kid-sized midway rides (there was a mini tilt-a-whirl, a mini spinning tea cups, and a mini Ferris Wheel, along with numerous inflatable bounce houses), but one of the booths was selling WebKinz. In fact, they had several WebKinz I'd never seen before, including the Lil'Kinz Poodle and one I've been wanting, the Lil'Kinz tiger.

I'm going to set up a Monkees display with four WebKinz in the music area of my living room. The Lil'Kinz Tiger is Davy Jones. The Pinto horse will be Mike Nesmith, and Cheeky Monkey will be Micky Dolenz. Haven't decided whether to make Peter Tork the American Cocker Spaniel or regular Cocker Spaniel yet. (They and the Halloween and Christmas WebKinz will be the only ones I buy clothes for.)

Finding Davy reminded me of another WebKinz I really wanted but hadn't found yet. On my way back, I stopped really quick at the Collingswood Variety Store. Yes, they had Whimsy Dragons. I grabbed one, payed for it, and headed right back out again. As cool as the fair was, it was just too crazy for me! Next year, I'll try to get out earlier.

After all that, work was steady-to-busy, with no major problems other than more people calling out and not showing for work. Jade tried to get me to stay tonight, but I hadn't brought enough money for dinner and would be having a late dinner as it was. Besides, I've gotten plenty of extra hours this week. It's not like I'm going to have a bad paycheck.

Oh yes, and meet Athena the Whimsy Dragon and Davy the Lil'Kinz Tiger! Athena is as noble and adventurous as the Greek Goddess of War and Wisdom for whom she's named; Davy is a charmer who's libido is bigger than his tiny frame. Athena will guard her roommate Amalthea the Lil'Kinz Unicorn from her Treasure Throne.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sister, Sister

I did wind up back at the Acme today, but only to get my paycheck and do a tiny bit of grocery shopping. I would have waited to pick it up until tomorrow, but the bank isn't open on Monday this week because of Memorial Day and I wanted to get it in while the bank was open. The store was surprisingly quiet, with very short lines.

Other than still being very windy, it was a beautiful day outside, sunny and much warmer (if still a tad cooler than normal for this time of year). Since I wasn't far from Market Street in Audubon, I rode up to Abbie Road to visit my older friend Bob and check out the collection of records he has for sale. I wound up with four - the Beatles' Abby Road, the Monkees' second album More of the Monkees, a Drifters greatest hits album, and the soundtrack from the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. I also stopped by Desserts By Design for a massive chocolate chip cookie.

The bank isn't too far from Market Street, so I went there next. I was very surprised to see a woman grilling hot dogs on their front walkway. Turns out today was their Spring Customer Appreciation Day and they were giving away hot dogs and cheeseburgers with all the fixings. Not many people can claim to have had their lunch at the bank, on the bank.

After lunch and depositing my paycheck, I headed home, put my groceries away, and went over to Uncle Ken's to do my laundry. Uncle Ken was out golfing for the day, but Dad was home, working on the landscaping for Uncle Ken's pool. He told me he and Jodie were planning on taking Rose out to dinner for a very late birthday celebration (her birthday is the week before mine in April, but she's a year younger) and invited me to come. I said "Sure." Free dinner is free dinner, and I haven't seen Rose in over a month. I watched Neptune's Daughter and My Sister Eileen on TCM and the final 20 minutes or so of The 'I Don't Care' Girl on Fox Movie Channel and took a walk while waiting for my small load of laundry to finish in the drier.

I hung out at my place and watched more of The Muppet Show before heading out again. I made a very quick stop at the Oaklyn Library to return the bread cookbooks I took out a few weeks ago before heading back over to Uncle Ken's. (I'm not going to get to library volunteering this week. It was too late to run over there by the time I finally finished the laundry. I'll just pick it up again next week.)

We had dinner at the same place we did for my birthday, only Rose got a candle in a heavy chocolate and coffee ice cream dessert. I had a wonderful rock shrimp and asparagus sauteed in a blush sauce over angel hair pasta, with fried calamari and more shrimp and asparagus for an appetizer. We all had a lovely time, and I made some interesting discoveries. My 17-year old sister Jessa just got her learner's permit last week. In fact, Dad let her drive home once we were across the White Horse Pike, and she did very well. (At least, she didn't bump into anything.) And Rose told me my 23-year-old sister Anny is pregnant again...only this time, the father not only wants to BE a father, but may be interested in marrying her.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crystal Dog Persuasion

Figures. I was called in this morning just a half-hour after awakening by Donna the head front-end manager. Could I come in at 12PM? No, it was 10:30 and I was still in bed! I made it in by 12:30. For once, the customers were all right. We just didn't have enough people to handle them. Three people called out after I arrived (one from the bakery) and they hadn't assigned enough people to work in the first place. That's how I ended up going in. Another manager actually asked me to stay until 8:30, but I said "No, I have errands to run!" Thankfully, they did get one of the boys to come in for me.

I decided to take advantage of being able to get off at 5PM and do what I'd planned on doing tomorrow when I went to get my paycheck. I first stopped at FYE to pick up The Muppet Show: Season Three, which just came out this past Tuesday. One of the boys working there pointed out the new WebKinz Gecko, which he'd just put on the display. I wasn't interested in the Gecko, but I asked him if there were any other new WebKinz there. He pulled out a bag of snakes and a bag of rhinos before he mentioned another bag of "fluffy polar bears." I knew what he meant - the fluffy white Samoyed Dog! That's one of the two May WebKinz I'd been dying to find. The Samoyed Dogs are gorgeous. (And the kid was right - with their white fur and black noses, they DO kind of look like fuzzy polar bears.) I bought the dog, the Muppets, and a used copy of the out-of-print 1995 CD of the Monkees' rarely-heard 1987 album Pool It!. The 20% off all children's DVDs if you buy WebKinz sale was still on, and coupled with my FYE Membership card and another sale, I picked up the Muppets for about $27. That's $12 less than the $39.99 original price. Sweet.

I had less luck with clothes shopping. I wanted to find new lightweight work pants (both of mine are nearly falling off of me) and a weatherproof spring jacket with a hood. My two hooded sweaters aren't weatherproof (as I've discovered the hard way this week), and my lighter winter jacket doesn't have a hood. Fashion Bug was having a big sale on capris, and that seemed to be all they had. We aren't allowed to wear capris to work. Avenue had the right pants, but the only ones they had in my size were much too long. No one had any jackets, or even light sweaters with hoods.

I had a BBQ Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Tu Se Bella's after I gave up on the clothes shopping. I'll just go into Philly next week or talk Rose into a Deptford Mall trip now that she's done with classes.

It was windy and still cool but sunny when I rode home. I'd heard at work that it had rained on and off all day, but I didn't believe them until I was on my way home and it started to rain...while it was still sunny out! It did it again an hour later, when I was at home and watching Muppet Show episodes. Thankfully, according to several of my customers and Yahoo!Weather, Mother Nature's supposed to make up her mind by tomorrow and let us have a sunny, warm Memorial Day weekend.

Oh, and meet Crystal, my beautiful Samoyed Dog! I moved her into the Candy Bed and Breakfast to help take care of Maisie the Gray and White Kitten. Cassie the Himalayan Cat was moved into the new "Cat Palace" room, which I built when I heard the Cat or the Dog themes may be retired. I didn't want to take chances, so I bought some cat furniture and made a small cat room and added more dog furniture to Nelson the Yellow Lab's "Lab House."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back In Business

The phone man showed up late this morning. (Good thing, because I was up VERY late last night looking at 80s cartoons and promos on YouTube!) Yes, he did fix my phone problems. As far as I can tell, both phone and internet are now running just fine, so anyone who has wanted to call me in the last week or so now can.

I had fun looking at those videos and promos. Lots of great memories there, from the old 70s "CBS Special Presentation" graphic that heralded the beginning of their holiday programming until well into the 80s to some of the cute Claymation "After these messages" buffers ABC did for it's Saturday Morning line-up in the late 80s and early 90s. There were some wonderful music videos of 80s and 90s cartoons, too. I especially liked two well done montages of 80s action cartoons done to the 1984 Bonnie Tyler hit "Holding Out For a Hero." (The longer montage included "credits" that mentioned the name and release year of all the cartoons used, some fairly obscure, to the tune of Genesis' 1986 "Land of Confusion.")

Work was, thankfully after yesterday, very busy but not a problem. We had a few obnoxious customers and one cashier never showed up and a bagger who just completed his cashiering class went in for me. I suspect the unusual-for-a-Wednesday lines came from how close we're getting to Memorial Day; many people who are expecting crowds by Friday are probably beginning their weekend shopping.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trouble On The Line and at Work

Ok, first of all, while the phone is technically working and I can receive calls, it's very static-y. I can hear the speaker...just not very well. (In fact, for a brief moment when I picked up the phone this morning, I got the buzzing sound despite changing the DSL filter before the regular tone returned.) A man from Verizon apparently came around while I was at work. It would seem that the problem is on an outside box and he didn't have the right tools. According to the note he left, he'll be back tomorrow or Thursday.

(The Internet, on the other hand, is working just fine. Changing the DSL filter does seem to have solved that problem.)

Work was nothing but a pain today. I haven't worked 8 hours in over a month, the weather was lousy again (though I managed to dodge the storms coming and going), and people were cranky. One older man was being a pain, needling me about writing the price on his check because of his eye problem and leaning hard on the receipt/check printer. You really can't lean on that. It jams easily...and did so. I fixed it, but I was so annoyed that I slapped the top down too hard. When I tried to run his check, it jammed. I ended up with a broken receipt/check printer, three annoyed managers, one annoyed old man with no check, and having to move to another register.

I watched the first hour or so of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom this morning and this evening. I loved Temple of Doom as a kid, and as the first Indiana Jones movie we had on video (we taped it off of HBO sometime around 1986-87), it's the one we saw most and that I have the fondest memories of. Even so, watching it now as an adult, I see the problems and the reasons this is the least well-regarded of the original three Indy movies. Indy's lady Willie does nothing but whine and scream, almost all of the non-white or Chinese characters are treated either condescendingly or as villains, and some scenes (such as the sequence in the pit with the guy ripping out the heart) are so gross, I'm surprised this didn't get an R, much less a PG-13.

On the other hand, there's a lot of fun to be had here. There's a lot of great gags and jokes (many at prissy Willie's expense). Some of the action set pieces, from the opening musical number in the Shanghai nightclub to the famous mine train ride to the bridge finale, are still genuinely thrilling. The special effects are still well-done, especially once we get into the "Temple of Doom" itself.

Last Crusade is still my favorite, but Temple of Doom is fun if you can get around Willie and the Asian stereotypes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Just Horsing Around

Ok, first of all, the phone's working again, at least as of this afternoon. My Internet's running three times as fast and hasn't gone down yet, either. When I went out to run my Economic Stimulus check and paycheck to the bank, I saw Verizon phone crews working on wires on Manor Street. In fact, Verizon seemed to be on every other block, especially on the White Horse Pike. I guess I wasn't the only one having phone problems. The rain and high winds over the weekend must have taken more of a toll than I thought.

It probably helped that I changed the gadget that filters the DSL signal on my phone when I got home on advice from one of the owners/operators of Doria's Deli, which I'd stopped at to get a diet soda and turkey for dinner at work.

Though still windy, cool, and on-and-off cloudy, I had some time before work and didn't feel like hanging around the house again, so I went for a walk down to the Willie the Woodsman Gift Shop on Pine Street in Audubon. (I discovered on my birthday last month that Willie's is one of the few small shops in the area that's opened on Mondays.) No, Willie's didn't have the Samoyed Dog or Lil'Kinz Chicken yet (and it sounds like they won't be getting the Dragon), but I did walk out with the Gray Arabian Stallion, the Brown Arabian Stallion, two packs of cards, and another bookmark.

Meet Amelia the Brown Stallion and Emerson the Gray Stallion! Both are named for Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson of Elizabeth Peters' wonderful Amelia Peabody mystery novel series. I got the idea when I saw a list of Arabian names on AdultKinz and one of them was Abdullah, another character in the Amelia series. I considered Abdullah before I decided to name them after the lead characters, who are often described riding Arabian horses and have adventures that are mostly set in Egypt and Arabia.

The wind made for quite a ride to work. I enjoyed the workout and arrived at the Acme feeling refreshed. Work was steady today, not really busy except during rush hour. I did pick up some extra hours tomorrow morning.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Nostalgia Channel

First of all, allow me to repeat - the phone is STILL not working. I receive calls, but all I hear is static, and I can't hear people when I call them. Verizon had BETTER be here Tuesday morning to fix the problem. Until then, please do not attempt to call me. The Internet is working intermittently (it only went down once today, and that for a minute), so I would prefer if you sent e-mails or text messages until the problem is cleared up.

Spent a quiet morning online, listening to the Beatles show (B-sides of singles was the theme today) and looking around online. I went online mostly to e-mail Mom and tell her I wouldn't be able to call her today and make sure she wouldn't worry about me. I was at X-Entertainment, looking at Matt's collection of 80s TV ads, and enjoyed the Saturday Morning commercials so much I went to YouTube to look for more.

That lead me to several series of videos containing bumpers for The Disney Channel in the 1980s and 90s. We were one of the only families I knew with premium cable until well into the 80s. My stepfather is one of the great couch potatoes of the universe, and even the basic cable package wasn't enough for him. We watched The Disney Channel long before most kids did, when it still ran an ecelectic mix of Canadian dramas and action programs (Danger Bay, The Edison Twins, our much-loved early 90s favorite Road to Avonlea), made-for-the-Disney Channel movies, Disney animated features, classic non-Disney films (I saw a lot of my first old musicals on Disney), half-hour programs highlighting the animated shorts and featurettes (Good Morning, Mickey, Donald's Quack Attack), music videos made of sequences from Disney animated and live-action movies, foreign, syndicated, and (later) original Disney cartoon and live-action kids' series, and concerts and special events (the Going Home series, The American Teacher Awards).

Avonlea was probably our favorite of the Disney Channel Canadian series. My sisters and I were entranced by the Anne of Green Gables adaptation with Megan Follows that came out in the mid-80s and love this show just as much. I was always fondest of "The Story Girl"...for I loved to tell stories, too. I would often recall how the children on Avonlea reacted when the parents announced they were having a baby. They took it much better than my sisters and I did when Mom and Dad made a similar announcement in March 1992. (We didn't believe them. I was a month from turning 13!)

I remember Rose was crazy about Danger Bay and Five Mile Creek, the latter a western. I never got into them. Anny loved the adorable Under the Umbrella Tree, a toddler show about a young woman and her four funny puppet pals.

Mom may still have a few bits and pieces of the early Disney Channel at her house. We taped two Disney-Channel-only holiday specials, A Disney Channel Christmas and Disney's Halloween Treat, in 1988. (We also picked up two Disney Halloween specials that ran on Fox that year. Disney had other holiday-related specials made up almost entirely of sequences from the animated films and shorts. There was a Mother's Day special, a Valentine's Day special I remember quite fondly, and Goofy's Salute to Father, made up of Goofy's 50s Suburbian Everyman shorts. I think there was also one for the 4th of July.) Christmas includes the "Disney Night Time" bumper with the glass-like purple Disney Channel logo and the shiny effect. We taped a couple of Disney and non-Disney movies off the Disney Channel in the late 80s and early 90s as well. (Our only copy of Star Wars: A New Hope until 1997 was taped off The Disney Channel in 1990.)

One of the things I remember the most about the early Disney Channel was how they used to run things between the shows and movies when they ran short. These were usually classic shorts that related to whatever had just ended, but we'd occasionally see something more bizarre, like the Tim Burton short Vincent (I'm getting the willies just THINKING of that one), the 70s stop-motion short Mouse Mania, or a featurette like Donald In Mathematics Land or Ben and Me.

I also have fond memories of Walt Disney Presents, which ran episodes from the Disneyland and Walt Disney's World of Color 50s series. That's how we got to see all the great Disney anthology heroes. Rose was fondest of Elfago Baca and Zorro (she's loved all things Spanish and Mexican since she was little). I preferred Dr. Syn and Gallagher, the Newsboy. Anny's favorite was Texas John Slaughter. We could still get Daddy to join in when Davy Crockett was on. He and Mom loved the odd "Tomorrowland" sci-fi/science shorts, too. I liked the ads for Disney movies that were new when the show came out but could, by the late 80s, be seen on video. It was fascinating to see how many of these films and the theme parks came into being.

Oh yes, and work was steady today, nothing major. People may have been scared off by the on-and-off rain and thunder we had all day long. I rode to work in the rain (being unable to call for a ride), but thankfully managed to dodge another storm and make it home dry after a groceries run.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Jersey Redmer and the Raiders Of the Lost Internet

First of all, for anyone nearby who reads this blog, please don't try to call me for a while. My phone just is not working. You'll have better luck e-mailing me if you need me, or if you live close enough, just coming over.

Once again, this is going to have to be quick, because my Internet is being screwy. I lost the signal for a half-hour. (Good thing Lauren is too busy unpacking after her move to do the role-play tonight.) I spent the morning and most of the afternoon at work. Work was steady, nothing major. We didn't even have too many cranky customers. A lot of people were either out enjoying the nice day or pre-Memorial Day festivities, or are waiting for closer to Memorial Day to do their major shopping (I'm surprised I didn't get more hours next weekend).

I bought strawberries, bananas, and broccoli, and then rode over to FYE and Staples to make the quick errands run I put off yesterday because of the weather. I picked up the new Indiana Jones DVD, a pack of WebKinz cards, and a used copy of the second season of The Greatest American Hero at FYE. (I wanted the original Indiana Jones set, which I did see at FYE last week, but they were out. Oh well. Extras aren't THAT important to me anyway, and it was on sale for about $39 with my FYE card.) I made an in-and-out stop at Staples for a new phone cord. The tab on one side of my old phone cord broke off and slips out.

I watched Raiders Of the Lost Ark during dinner. Like any true child of the 80s, I love Indy. This is my kind of action - escapes, chases, explosions when needed, a hero who's smart AND handy with weapons, a leading lady who is just as smart and skilled (and holds her liquor against men three times her size), great comic relief, hissable bad guys. As the first of the Indiana films, I didn't really see Raiders until Dad finally picked it up on video sometime in the late 80s, and I like it (and Marian) but it's not my favorite. (That would be Last Crusade.)

Oh, and if my internet behaves, I'm going to try to post the tag sequence for Monkees Magic Show tonight. Look for it at our Monkees role play site!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Water Bagels and Water Elsewhere

I'm going to do this while my Internet is behaving. The weather today was absolutely miserable, damp, dreary, and raining. It poured this morning...right when I had to go to my dentist appointment, of course. I showed up in Dr. Heider's office literally dripping wet. (And yes, I do own an umbrella. A very good one from the 70s that I got in a yard sale two years ago, shortly after moving here. I was even wearing my red sweater with the hood. The dentist office is just a few blocks from me and I saw no reason to ask for a ride.)

Today, I finally got that tooth I broke last year filled. I never did anything about it because it didn't hurt. Turns out that there was some decay in there, too. Other than the needle needed to numb my jaw (I HATE needles!) and the fact that one of the drills was so noisy, I had to resist looking to see if a herd of elephants were charging down the White Horse Pike. When all was said and done, the broken tooth was filled, and Dr. Heider says the other teeth appear to be on the mend, including the one with the really bad gums.

I spent the rest of the day at home, baking and doing yoga and stuff online. I'd originally planned to get my paycheck at the Acme, then run a few small errands in the Audubon Commons shopping center behind them, but I finally decided I've done enough running around in the rain. My remaining errands could wait. I e-mailed Verizon about my phone and Internet troubles (I was going to call them, but I wanted to borrow my landlady's phone, and by the time she came home, I didn't really feel like going out in the weather) right after I got in. The Internet went down three times, but never for more than a minute or two each time, so I'm hoping that bodes well for tonight.

I tried something a little different with my bread-baking this evening. Despite the disaster with my pretzels, I decided to try another popular bread snack. Bagels are surprisingly simple to make. They only need to rise for about 40 minutes all together, and you actually let them boil in water for a few minutes to give them their chewiness and shiny crust. Unlike my pretzels, they came out perfectly. I was running out of regular flour and made them with part-wheat flour, and that gave them a nice, nutty flavor and a deeper color.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Long Day

My Internet is acting up again (and my phone isn't working either - it says "Line In Use" when I'm not using it, even when the Internet is off), so I'm going to try to make my long day brief. I went into Collingswood first thing this morning after breakfast. I dropped a small donations bag at Friends In Deed, then went across the street to look at the WebKinz selection at the Collingswood Variety Store. I was hoping they'd have the new Whimsy Dragon and Samoyed Dog, but no luck. They take forever to get anything new, not to mention they don't carry Lil'Kinz, so they don't have the Lil' Chicken. I spent most of the remaining hour or so before work at the Collingswood Public Library, where I read books on musicals and bought two records, a collection of songs and non-fiction radio broadcasts from the late 40s and 50s and one of the jazz albums Linda Rondstat did in the 80s with Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra, Lush Life.

I was mainly in Collingswood for this week's counseling session. Scott and I discussed my upcoming goals - losing more weight, doing at least one Yogawood class, trying to learn how to relax and focus so I can focus on getting a real job. Actually, I'd like to learn to focus, period. I bounce from one idea to the next without finishing any of them. Maybe I could write something if I didn't get an idea, obsess over it, develop it, then drop it like a stone when I get the next hot idea.

I had a brief lunch at the Tree House Cafe a few blocks from Genesis Counseling (a Ham BLT Wrap, cookies, and iced tea) before riding over to Westmont for the day's next errand. I had to return two late books to the Haddon Township Library and do this week's volunteering. I did the Children's DVDs again. I got a bit crowded out over there. The kids from the three or four schools nearby were out by the time I finally got there, and the littlest dragged their mothers over to me to ask for DVDs. I did some creative organizing and re-organizing, but I got everything in and made all the kids happy.

I made a very quick stop at Blockbuster Video across the parking lot from Super Fresh to see if they had the original Indiana Jones DVD set. (The one released this week apparently lacks the extras of the first set.) They didn't, so I headed home. I'll go to FYE tomorrow or Saturday and see if they still have it.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my budget and baking bread. The recipes in The Bread Bible seem to be a tad complicated for me, but the ones in Betty Crocker's Bread mostly contain shortening and seem a little fattening. I finally decided I didn't have the time to mess with starters and sponges and just bit the lard bullet and made Pioneer Bread, a cornmeal loaf bread from Betty Crocker. It's still cooling, so I haven't tasted it yet, but it sure smelled good in the oven!

I used the leftover meatballs to make Swedish Meatballs from my 50s Scandinavian Cookbook for dinner. I used plain yogurt instead of cream (I seem to remember Mom used sour cream for Swedish Meatballs when I was a kid) and the vegetable stock leftover from the French Vegetable Soup, and it turned out kinda thin. (The flour kept clumping, too.) I threw in the dandelion greens just because I was tired of having them as a salad. Hopefully, it'll be thicker tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Kids In My Neighborhood

Did my laundry this morning. I played with Dolores' grandson Blake while she and Uncle Ken talked. Blake's about four years old, and a lot of fun. We watched Cats Don't Dance on Cartoon Network. After a while, Blake pulled out the big container of Beanie Babies under Uncle Ken's pool table, and we played with those. (Blake is particularly fond of the snakes.) Dolores offered to run some bills to the post office for me, since she and Blake were going there. Dolores also confirmed something I'd heard at work but wasn't sure about - the price of stamps went up again. Great. She said she'd get 1 cent stamps for my bills, and I'll pick up some more tomorrow.

After they left and I tossed my small load of laundry in the drier, I went out for a walk and to return the DVDs. I arrived at the Oaklyn Library just as a gaggle of day-school kids and their teacher were on their way out. I even held the door for them. They were so cute. One boy commented on my DVD of Meet the Robinsons; apparently, it's a favorite of his. A girl wore a High School Musical T-shirt. I lingered for a few moments in the library after bringing the DVDs to the desk, but I didn't take anything out. Between the two Scarlet Pimpernel books, the two used books, and catching up on other books I haven't read yet, I have plenty to read for now.

I ran into Erica in her car on the way back to Uncle Ken's. Erica was going to pick up her mother from downtown Philadelphia. She complimented me on the weight I've lost, and I asked her if she'd started back at the thrift shop yet. Apparently not until the end of the month, but she said for me to tell the woman on duty there tomorrow that she said "hi."

After I picked up the laundry and brought it home, I ate lunch, then headed to work. Work was busier than yesterday, but not so busy it felt out of hand, and once again, we had plenty of help and there were no major problems other than a few obnoxious people.

Lauren and I finally began our next main Monkees story tonight. It's probably a good thing we planned for this to be a light "road trip" story, since we won't have as much time to do it as usual before it's time to start the NEXT story!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Friendship, Likely and Otherwise

I watched Meet the Robinsons this morning during breakfast. Disney's latest animated film is the tale of an orphan named Lewis who wants to be a great inventor, but his crazy gizmos never seem to work and frighten off potential parents. Lewis is about to give up after his newest invention, a Memory Scanner he hopes will help him find his birth mother, nearly destroys his school science fair. He gets a boost when he encounters Wilbur Robinson, a strange boy with pointy hair who turns out to be from the future. He takes Lewis to his time in the hope that he'll be able to stop the evil Bowler Hat Guy, who's stolen his father's time machine, but Lewis ends up falling for Wilbur's wacky family and really doesn't want to leave.

Kudos to Disney for trying something completely different, both in the film's story (based after a children's book, A Day With Wilbur Robinson) and design. Perhaps the film's motto, "Keep Moving Forward," will finally inspire Disney to follow the words of its founder mentioned at the very end of the film and move past the formulas and sequels they've relied on for over a decade and move into, if not newer, at least more unusual territory.

It was an absolutely perfect day out, still windy but sunny and bright, a marked improvement over yesterday. It was too nice to be inside all day, so I went for a walk. I wanted to bring Uncle Ken and Bruce some of my Orange Spice Cream Cake, but there was a very, very long train blocking the path over the tracks I usually take. I ended up going down Manor, around West Clinton, and up to Hillcrest the long way. (And it's a good thing I did - I would have NEVER gotten around that train. There was more of it on the bridge over West Clinton Avenue, and even THAT didn't look like anywhere close to the end!)

I hung out online for a little while after my walk and tried to call Verizon, but but the phone still wasn't working. I did find out what may be the problem with my Internet, though. Apparently, wireless phones that have 2.4 GHz, the same as the DSL, interferes with the DSL. Guess what my phone has? Since it's not working anyway, I unplugged it while I'm online. I haven't had any internet problems tonight, so I hope that was it. Maybe I'll try my old phone tomorrow and see how well that works. It's not a wireless phone. If the phone isn't working by tomorrow, I'll need to go to Miss Ellie's side of the house or to Uncle Ken's and call Verizon. I'd e-mail them, but I really think I ought to explain my work schedule and that there are only certain hours I'll be there one-on-one.

I went to work after lunch. Work was steady during the usual 4-5 rush hour, otherwise was dead as a doornail and about as much fun. The 4 1/2 hours seemed to drag on forever. We had plenty of help once the kids let out of school, and Sue, the head front end manager, was training three more older cashiers in the back.

I watched Sideways when I got home. I've rented this acclaimed comedy three times, but just never got to watching it. I'm glad I finally did. The reason most of the movies I rent or buy that were made in the last ten years were kids' movies is...most of the movies made in the last 10 years for adults have been pretty bad. I find most romantic comedies boring, bloody action leaves me cold, horror makes me queasy, and I could care less about teenage boys and their hormones.

Even so, for all my love of Disney, animation, and family films, sometimes, I just want to watch competent adults behave like real, competent adults - cursing, drinking, going through real life and messy love affairs that maybe could actually happen. I'd heard wonderful things about Sideways from all over and thought it sounded exactly right. Two now-middle-aged college buddies go for a road trip through California Wine Country to celebrate the upcoming wedding of one of them.

I was right. This was a great movie, well-deserving of the praise heaped on it (and the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay it won in 2005). The cast deserved much praise as well. Paul Giamatti, who usually plays heavies and quirky characters, was a revelation as the high school English teacher, struggling writer, and wine connoisseur who learns to put his messy divorce behind him, but all four leads were wonderful. The best part of all, though, was listening to four literate, intelligent, middle-aged adults discover love, sex, and fine wine...all without coming off too sweet, hormonal, or goofy. This is a comedy and you will laugh, but it's laughter as bittersweet as a grape off the vine.

I got so into Sideways (and doing my bills), I was late joining Lauren in our second chat and first writing session in over a month. We did manage to do the tag for "The Monkee Magic Show" and finish that story off, and will be starting the next one tomorrow. Look for the tag in a few days, and the next story by the end of this month!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

Even if the weather isn't. Not only did it rain all day long, but it never got warmer than 50 degrees, and the wind was 50 miles an hour this morning. The wind had gentled considerably by the time I walked to the Oaklyn Library to return Ratatouille, but the rain continued. I got there an hour before the 2PM closing (they reopen again from 4-8 every night but Saturday) and took out three more DVDs I've been wanting to see - last year's big Disney animated film Meet the Robinsons, the buddy comedy Sideways, and High School Musical 2.

Since I'd already seen and liked the first High School Musical, I began with its sequel. This time the dance-loving students from East High School get summer jobs in a local country club, but the snotty daughter of the club's owner isn't thrilled. She'd rather have the student's leader on her arm...and the other kids out of the club's talent show she always wins. What she doesn't realize is she's pushing away her ever-loyal brother while trying to charm the lead basketball hero, and her brother finally turns to the other kids to fight back, HIS way.

I think I liked this one better than the first. It's the choreography that wins the day here. The high-octane numbers are even more fun (including the amazing opener as school ends and the kids' number in the kitchen) and the film just pulses with their energy. Gorgeous New Mexico cinematography is a big help too, making the whole film look like a Technicolor 50s flick. And I repeat what I said when I reviewed the first film. I'm really happy to see real kids in this (and in last year's Hairspray). It really brings a layer of authenticity to the rather thin proceedings that no adults pretending to be kids ever could.

There are, however, still quite a few problems. The numbers are at their best when showing off groups, ensembles, or duos. The solo ballad and dance number are excruciatingly bad. The basketball player's solo dance is silly and out-of-place, despite some nice camera-work and the beautiful scenery, and his girlfriend had far less to do the second time around besides one bad ballad. And while I'm sure it was intentional, whoever designed the diva girl's awful costumes should have been shot. She was probably supposed to look outrageous, given her bratty behavior, but her campy costumes were just a bit too much.

I didn't catch names, but special kudos to the boy who played the diva's brother and to the sweet girl who played the piano player. The boy really is an amazing dancer - check out the baseball number! - and the pianist is a real doll.

I tried to call Dad for a ride to work as High School Musical 2 ran, but my phone wasn't working. All I was getting was this weird buzzing sound, or occasionally nothing at all. I tried calling him three times, but got nothing. I finally made my way over to Dad's to ask for a ride. Uncle Ken ended up taking me, and Jodie drove me home. I barely made it on time, but it scarcely mattered. Work was (surprisingly, given the weather) steady for most of the afternoon, with for once, an overabundance of help.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mammas Mia!

Happy Mother's Day to all mamas everywhere (including mothers whose children are four-legged, like my sister Rose and friends Tina and Linda). I did call my mother this evening after work. She was just getting ready to make my brother and dad dinner. Daddy tried to talk her into going out, but she didn't really feel like braving the crowds and said she didn't mind cooking. And yes, she received my card and enjoyed it.

Work was surprisingly steady for the first major holiday we've had since Easter in late March. Maybe it was because of the sunny (though windy) day, or maybe more people opted to take their mothers out to dinner. There were no major problems beyond a few annoying customers. Someone even put Ennterman's donuts and Acme bakery sticky buns in the back for Mother's Day. I had a sticky bun with lunch, but I'm not the biggest donut fan.

I finished watching Ratatouille when I came home from work. This was the big Pixar film from last summer, and considering the mixed reviews, I quite enjoyed it. It's certainly one of their most unusual films, the tale of a French rat who longs to become a great gourmet chef. He gets his chance when he's separated from his family and lands in Paris, where he helps a shy garbage boy in a once-great restaurant become top man and win the heart of a tough female sous chef. Ultimately, despite a somewhat down-beat ending, I found this to be a touching and sweet story of how one animal's dream is finally accepted by both friends and matter how unusual that dream may seem to others.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

No Rest For the Weary

Thankfully, it was gloomy and gray when I woke up but not wet, so I was able to go to the bank and the Collingswood Farm Market. Going to the Farm Market today was especially important, since I won't be able to get there next week. I work too early next Saturday (9:30) to get there and get to the store on time. The Farm Market was busy again; it took me a while to get some of the farmers' attention, there were so many people milling around. I finally came out with beets, bananas from the wholesaler, peach butter, fresh cheddar cheese, two brioche rolls and a raisin-nut breadstick, and the first New Jersey strawberries of the season. (All the strawberries I've bought from Acme came from California.) I made a quick stop at Doria's Deli on the way home for brown sugar and turkey.

I had lunch, then went over Uncle Ken's really quick to retrieve the copy of Ratatouille I left there on Friday, then went home and went to work. Work was busy the whole day, especially early on. The sun came out somewhere around 4:30, and by the time I finally finished my own grocery shopping and headed home, the clouds were gone and it was a perfectly normal spring evening. Hopefully, this bodes well for Mother's Day. I know a lot of people have many things planned for tomorrow, especially since this is the first really major holiday since Easter.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Who'll Stop The Rain?

Ugh. The pollen is finally getting to me. I feel lousy. I have a headache, my throat and eyes are itchy, and I've been blowing my nose all day. The weather's just as bad. It's been raining steadily all day long, from the time I woke up this morning until I came home from work. It's cold and damp and just plain yucky.

It's probably just as well that I spent the day finishing this month's cleaning. I washed the windows and dusted the woodwork, vacuumed, and dusted the rest of the house. I wanted to get it done today because, hopefully, I'll be going to the Collingswood Farm Market tomorrow morning and I work for most of the afternoon after that.

I finally ended up calling for a ride to work. This was NOT a bike day. Uncle Ken and Dolores drove me there. They were on their way to visit Uncle Ken's daughter and her family and would be going past the Acme any. Jodie drove me home. She loves driving Dad's van.

Work was steady to busy, but might not have been that bad if we'd had more help. Half the people under 18 who worked at the Acme apparently had their proms tonight. I feel sorry for them. This is not a fun day to be running around in fancy outfits and heavy make-up that you hope doesn't get ruined before you have your picture taken and hit the dance floor.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Follow the Leader

I slept in again (I really need to stop staying up late, looking up info on classic Disney shorts). I didn't have the time to do any cleaning, but I did get my laundry in. That's was a good thing, because I was doing my bathroom and kitchen towels, which meant there was quite a bit more than usual.

I watched a few cartoons while my laundry was in the washer. The Backyardigans learned the importance of being prepared as they went on a "Race Around the World" to country rock. Austin, Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone were competing against each other in a four-even-race (Tasha was the announcer). Austin was nervous because this was his first race and the others had all won gold medals before, but he taught his friends a lesson when he was able to help them out of trouble in various events, thanks to the things he brought along in his waist pack.

Baloo the Bear also learned a lesson about friendship in the 1930s-set Tale Spin. When he helps Shere Khan (here a ruthless businessman...tiger) out of a jam, Khan offers to reward him richly for his troubles. Baloo takes his offer a bit too much to heart, buying fancy clothes and cars and quitting his job at the air service business Higher For Hire. His ward Kit Cloudkicker and Rebecca Cunningham, Higher For Hire's owner, are worried about his obnoxious behavior and sudden spendthrift ways. Their worry turns to alarm when Baloo's kidnapped and ransom is demanded. Needless to say, Baloo is rescued and finally discovers that there are some things money can't good friends and trustworthy bosses.

I went for a walk after Tale Spin. It wasn't really a very nice day, cloudy, damp, and on-and-off light showers, but I needed to get outside. I was walking down by CVS when a tiny dog sprinted after me, barking and yapping. It looked like he'd ran from someone's house or broken off of a leash, and sure enough, a little boy came rushing after him, calling his name. I tried to encourage the dog to return to his young master, but it was almost ten minutes before he finally gave up barking and running around me in circles and went home.

I repeat what I said last month about people being more careful with their pets. That dog might have gotten run over by a car, or gotten lost, or been hurt by someone much less sweet than me! Please, fence in your yard when your dog is outdoors, keep an eye on them when they're indoors, and keep them on a leash when they're in an unfenced area!

I made a brief stop at the Oaklyn Library on my way back to Uncle Ken's. I took out last year's big Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille (and left the DVD at Dad and Uncle Ken's - I'll have to go back for it tomorrow) and two books on making bread, Betty Crocker's Bread from 1974 and the huge and aptly named The Bread Bible. The laundry took longer in the drier than usual, due to the unusually large load, so I had the time to work on Key Lime Pie Murder, which I bought at Wal Mart last month.

(I finally finished the Maisie Dobbs book Pardonable Lies this morning. As excellent as the previous stories; a touching and haunting tale of dealing with grief, war, and the loss of loved ones.)

I went to work about an hour later. Work was steady up through about 5, after which the rush hour came in and we got busy. It died around 8PM and didn't appear to be in any hurry to speed up again when I left a half-hour later.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Heating Up

I spent most of this very warm and sunny day cleaning the kitchen. Like the bathroom, it needed it, especially the sink. Talk about rings! Took me forever to scrub. I'd slept so late, though, I didn't have the time to do much of anything else besides eat lunch, get dressed, and rush to work.

Work was mostly dead, though we're still getting annoying beginning-of-the-month people. Actually, I spent half the evening doing everything BESIDES working at a register. One of the managers was training some new cashiers and wanted them to get as much work in as they could. It was so dead, we didn't end up needing the extra help, so I bagged (which I hate - it's even more boring than cashiering), did returns (which I love - gives me a chance to think and get to know the store), and put baskets up front next to the self-checkout. No problems getting off, on, or to or from work. It was breezy but not too windy, which made for a lovely ride.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Little Things Mean A Lot

I spent most of today running small errands and doing usual chores. After breakfast and sleeping in, I headed for the Haddon Township Library. In addition to organizing the children's DVDs, I did the R section of the children's picture books. The latter were a disaster area. I may ask to continue on through the alphabet next week - the kids' books really could use it.

I made a very quick trip to Super Fresh after leaving the library for tea. Super Fresh has a better selection of tea at better prices, and I'm going to be needing more now that I'm making my own iced tea in addition to drinking it in the morning. I was in and out of Super Fresh in less than 10 minutes. I only needed the tea, and I wanted to avoid the kids coming out of school.

After I got home, I had lunch and went right back out again, this time in the opposite direction. I went to the FYE behind the Acme to sell my Vintage Mickey DVD (a short collection of early Mickey Mouse cartoons; now that I have both B&W Treasures sets, Vintage Mickey is superfluous), and then headed across the parking lot to the free-standing Staples to get a new computer keyboard. I'd been wanting to do that for months. My old one was sticking and the letters were rubbing off.

Actually, the second trip was partially an excuse to just get out. It was a gorgeous day, 80 degrees and sunny. It did shower very briefly later in the afternoon, but by that time, I was home and in the midst of cleaning my bathroom. (The bathroom was the only thing I finished cleaning today; tomorrow, I'll do the kitchen and the windows, and possibly get to vacuuming.)

I finished up the Mickey Mouse In Black & White Treasures set this evening. I really love those shorts. I don't know what Disney and his animators were on in the early and mid-30s, but there's a vitality to those shorts that Disney would never have again, and some of them (like the horror-themed Mad Doctor or the hilarious Touchdown Mickey) are plain bizarre. Fun stuff.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Center City Kitty

Hoo boy, have I had a LOOONGGGG day! I'm dead tired and have a lot to cover, so this will be brief. I finally got a hold of Mom this morning before I headed out to the bank and to do some shopping in Center City Philadelphia. Mom's worried about my almost-4-year-old nephew Skylar. He was just put in day care and is proving rabidly unsuited for it. He's hitting, kicking, and punching everyone in sight, especially children.

I don't have kids, and even I could have told Mom all this a long time ago. Skylar lives with his overly-indulgent working mother who tends to ignore him when there's a phone, a man, or friends nearby and has even more indulgent grandparents, especially a grandfather who sees the boy as a way to make up for not spending more time with his own son. I agree with Mom. What Skylar really needs is psychological help as soon as he's old enough and to attend the Special Services School District. They'd never handle him in the regular schools. (They couldn't handle ME in a regular elementary school, and the only thing I ever did that was even close to aggressive was kick the side of the school building in frustration.)

Actually, the real reason I called Mom was to find out if she wanted anything for Mother's Day. She said, "No, I just moved and I don't want any knick-knacks cluttering up my new house." Fair enough. I'd just get her a card. I finally headed out, making a quick stop at the bank before riding over to the PATCO Train Station in Collingswood, enjoying a beautiful, mild, sunny spring day.

This was my first long outing in Philadelphia since my after-Christmas trip and my first Philly visit in over a month (since I took Jessa into the city), so I really enjoyed it. The greenery and lights had been replaced by banners of orange and black cheering for the Philadelphia Flyers on their way to the Eastern Conference finals, a miracle for a team that was one of the worst in the NHL last year. Even some of the SEPTA buses flashed "GO FLYERS" between the names of the streets they were headed for. I thought it was a nice touch.

I had a great shopping day, too. I picked up two paperbacks (the novelization of Young Frankenstein and an Indiana Jones-type adventure) and a gorgeous sepia photo from The African Queen at my favorite used book store, Ralstoff's Used Books and Records on 10th Street. I a Sesame Ginger Chicken Sandwich and an iced tea at a nifty little sandwich shop called Cosi. I bought a Lil'Kinz Gray and White Cat at the Suncoast in the Gallery Mall, and since they were having a sale where you could get 20% off a family DVD if you bought a WebKinz, I picked up Volume 3 of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. I bought cards for Mom and for Uncle Ken (whose birthday is today) at the Hallmark in the Gallery Mall. I bought a Rachel Ray cookbook for Uncle Ken (who loves Rachel Ray and Food Network in general) and finally found the two sequel novels to my favorite book, The Scarlet Pimpernel at the big Borders on Broad Street.

I made my favorite find of the day at the FYE across from the Broad Street Borders. They were still in the midst of rearranging the DVDs on my last visit here, but they were definitely finished now. I didn't have to go very far to find something I really wanted. I was browsing through the Disney DVDs when I came across a surprise - the Walt Disney Treasures set Mickey Mouse In Black and White used for only $34.95! I have the second black and white Mickey Treasures set and it's one of my favorites and have been debating getting the first one online for months. The sets from the first two Treasures waves are among the rarest and most expensive online and almost impossible to find with their tins intact. This one not only came with a slightly scuffed tin, it also had the mini-poster of Steamboat Willie. (The only thing missing was the original blue cardboard wrap-around banner.) Not only that, but it turned out to be about $32 with my FYE Membership card. Sweet, and probably cheaper than anything online would have been with the shipping. (The shipping is a big part of the reason I don't buy more online.)

I briefly went to Messages, the store in the Liberty Place Mall where I bought Linda the Collie, to see if they had any good WebKinz and to buy cards. No good WebKinz this time, and no good cards either, so I headed back out. I walked down the street and through City Hall (admiring their "Vengeance Now!" Flyers banner on the way through), then down Broad Street...before realizing I didn't know where in the HECK I was. Long story very short, I finally made my way down Broad Street, turning at Race Street and heading for Chinatown, which I know is near Market Street.

At one point, I walked under the Philadelphia Convention Center and found something I'd heard about from several people but had never seen before - Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal Market is kinda Philly's large-scale version of the Collingswood Farm Market, selling fresh meats, produce, cheeses, ice cream, and baked goods...not to mention, its rumored, the best cheese steaks in a town filled with them. It was around quarter after 5, and most of the stores were starting to close down at this point. They also only took smaller bills, and all I had was a 20. Pooh. I walked on, finally getting an iced tea and a slice of Lemon Pound Cake at the Starbucks near the 9th Street entrance of the Gallery Mall.

After I took a stuffed-full train home, I made a brief stop at Dad and Uncle Ken's to see if Uncle Ken was home. Not only were he and Dolores home from their trip, but several neighbors and relatives were around as well. I showed off my finds and gave Uncle Ken his card and cookbook (he loved both) before heading home for a very late and much-needed dinner.

Oh, and meet Maisie, the sweet, athletic Gray and White kitten! Cassie the Himalayan Cat is going to take care of her in their Candy Bedroom. She came with the cutest little plane the WebKinz can ride in!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

In the Spring Of Things

Spent a lovely, quiet morning at home, listening to the Beatles show (live Beatles performances were the theme today) and reading the new Maisie Dobbs book Pardonable Lies. I loved the first two, and so far, this one is just as enjoyable. I tried calling Mom, but she'd apparently spent most of the night and early morning at Lower Cape May Regional High School's After-Prom Party (which she helped to organize) and was dead tired. I'll call her again tomorrow.

The morning began cloudy, but by the time the last note of "Roll Over Beethoven" drifted across the park to the river, it was perfectly sunny and in the lower 70s. There was a bit of a chill to the wind that kept it from getting too warm. I walked over to CVS to buy shampoo and really, just to get out. I wasn't the only one out enjoying the sunshine. The sidewalks teemed with kids on bikes, joggers, walkers, and parents pushing strollers.

Work was just as crazy as last Sunday, if not more so. I had some obnoxious beginning of the month people I wanted to throttle (don't they ever pay attention to the signs, or do they just assume the price is what they want?), and I had no relief and a long line. I don't know why there was someone in at 6PM, but not 6:15. I just barely made it out on time.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Return of the Farm Market

I attended the first Collingswood Farm Market of the season this morning. Despite the gloomy clouds and chilly weather, the place was packed three and four deep at some booths. It was mostly vegetables, baked goods, or flowers. I'm iffy on buying flowers because I don't know how well they'd survive the bike ride home, but I did get honey, pumpkin butter, leeks, dandelion greens (something different for salads than spinach - and just as nutritional), asparagus, bananas from the wholesaler, and a nice, round loaf of bread. I've missed the Farm Market. It's fun to just walk around and see all the people and their kids and pooches. There were some beautiful dogs there today, including two frisky Pinchers who reminded me of my sister Rose's dog Kelsey and two gorgeous honey-colored collies.

I had lunch (yogurt, two slices of Portuguese Corn Bread with Sugar-Free Apricot Preserves, and dandelion greens with balsamic vinaigrette), then went to work. Work was busy all day long, especially when the sun briefly came out and the temperatures soared. By the time I went home, though, the clouds and the chill had returned. It's supposed to get warmer later this week, though.

And...all RIGHT! The Flyers rode past le Montreal Canadiens this evening and will be going on to the Eastern Conference final! Woo HOO! :D

Friday, May 02, 2008


Oh, and meet Marza, my WebKinz Panda! She's the Pet of the Month, so she came with extra goodies. And her "extra" was a doozy - the Flying Saucer! I really need to find somewhere cool to put that. Marza moved in with Miles the Black Bear, and I gave her the cool new Baseball Bed from the just-released Sports mix theme.

(I'm still working on the new backyard at the moment, but maybe my next room will be a sports bar. I'm not that into sports myself, but some of those new pieces are too cool to not put them to SOME good use...)
Good Times, Bad Teeth

I had my third dentist appointment this morning. She had to drill in the big molar on the other side. I didn't think it was as bad because it didn't hurt, but apparently it was also broken and fairly close to the nerve. Not only that, but the other tooth was infected. Swell. At first she said I would need a root canal, but she and her assistant took another look at my X-rays from the last time and decided to do a good cleaning on my other teeth to help out the woman who would be scaling and polishing them. For now, they just ended up giving me an antibiotic in the gums around the bad tooth on the right side and cleaning the others very well. I can't eat hard, crunchy, or sticky foods for a week and I can't floss for ten days, but hopefully this will help the gums enough to avoid that (expensive) surgery.

The rest of the day was far more pleasant. It started out in the 60s, but by the time I got home, it was in the 70s and climbing. (The weather is much appreciated after the clouds, storms, and chilly wind we've had all week!) I put my red sweater away and switched my old jeans for my new jean capris. After lunch (two soft Strawberry Muffins and a Strawberry-Banana Smoothie), I went to the Haddon Township Library to return the DVDs that were due and finally due this week's volunteering. (I was going to do it on Tuesday but got called into work and didn't have the time.) It was so nice, I went for a ride afterwards, stopping to say hi to Bob at Abbie Road and buy a really cool 20-CD set of old-time radio sitcoms and a Bing Crosby collection.

I listened to two of the discs while I made dinner. Blondie and A Date With Judy are early examples of typical family sitcoms. (Blondie comes from the still-running radio strip, which pre-dates both the radio show and the popular movie series.) I had more fun with Blondie, where Dagwood Bumstead comes off as a more nasal Fibber Magee with a kid (his tall tales to Alexander about how he would swim in the river in January were hilarious). Date With Judy was a bit more dated. While sitcom plots haven't changed (substitute "garage rock band" for "orchestra" and "local access TV" for "local radio" in the second episode and it could almost be set now), teenagers sure have. Breathless Judy and super-nerdy Oogie Pringle don't sound like any kids their age I know. (Hard to believe Oogie was played by Richard Crenna. I wonder what Rambo would say if he knew his drill sergeant was an uber-nerd as a teenager?)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

WebKinz List

Oh, and here's my current list of WebKinz, for anyone who wants to know what I have:

Large WebKinz

Miles the Black Bear
Clarence and Mary the Reindeer (they are NOT moose!)
Henry and Eliza the Black Poodles
Cassie the Himalayan Cat
Linda the Collie
Quinn the Polar Bear
Marza the Panda (I'm going to register her tomorrow)
Nelson the Yellow Lab
Chester the Alley Cat
Shadow the Charcoal Cat
Rose the Pink Pony
Nicholas the Clydesdale
King the Black Fresian
Nanni the Husky
Lily the Duck
Stuffy the Rabbit
Blanche the White Poodle
Rouge the Pink Poodle
Sundance the Raccoon
Cadbury the Brown Dog

Lil'Kinz (small WebKinz)

Debbie the Golden Retriever
Duke the Pig
Amalthea the Unicorn
Elvis the Penguin
Miss Bianca the White Mouse
"Just You Wait, 'Enry Poodle..."

I spent the morning doing my laundry for the week. Jodie and Dad came in half-way through with a late birthday present - a new WebKinz Black Poodle! Though I already have a Black Poodle, I figured, I have two reindeer, I can have two poodles. (Besides, Jodie already returned a duck for me.) I registered my new poodle at Dad's house in order to show WebKinz World to Jodie, who thought it was too cute.

Meet Henry, Eliza's proper British mate. I initially put him in the Lab House, but decided he should be with his "mate" and moved him to the Modern Condo and Cadbury the Brown Dog to the Summer Room with Blanche.

I had a lot of luck tonight with shopping. I finally found a Scoreboard Television in the Curio Shop, and the Hockey Dresser from the new Sports theme was a perfect replacement for the Kid's Toy Box and Locker I was using for storage. Quinn the Polar Bear's Hockey Rink Room is now complete!

I also began my third outdoor yard, this one based around Nelson the Yellow Lab's Lap It Up pool. I'm hoping to do a landscaped pool area inspired by the ones Dad made for his old yard in Florida in the 90s and for Uncle Ken's yard here. It'll use the Gamer's Garden items I've won from the series 2 cards and the small ponds I've received as exclusives.

Work was busy today, this being the beginning of the months, with several obnoxious customers I wished I could throttle. Long lines and that persistent lack of help didn't help matters. I'm actually thankful for my dentist's appointment tomorrow - it's now my only day off this week!