Monday, June 30, 2008

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Spent the morning cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen and listening to WOGL's Top 1,000 Hits Countdown. It's a little early, but the bathroom in particular needed it. The sink and bathtub were really scummy. It was nicer out, too. It's still hot, but the humidity's gone and there's a great breeze. Scuttlebutt at the Acme says it's supposed to get even nicer as the week continues, which is good news for Fourth of July festivities. It was so cool this morning, I had the air conditioner off while I cleaned.

Work was steady-to-dead for most of the night, except for around the usual rush hour time. It won't be that way for much longer. Between the beginning of the month people and the 4th of July shoppers, I imagine the rest of the week will be far more chaotic.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer Sunday

Had a nice, quiet Sunday. Called Mom this morning while listening to records and eating cherries and French toast. Skylar was sent home last night. He got to Cooper too late to find out what's wrong with him. He'll be going back if he ever has another seizure like that again. No one's terribly surprised or happy with the verdict, but there's not much anyone can do besides wait and see. Mom was on her way out to the Hamilton Mall, 45 minutes from Erma, when I called. Daddy was at work and Keefe was helping Anny take care of the tired and frazzled Skylar.

Work was steady, with no major problems other than I'd like to know where everything that's supposed to be at the registers - like pens, the coupon and pricing papers for the Pick 5 meat promotion, cleaner, paper towels, and the tags for ringing up the 24 packs of water - are disappearing to. I think there's only one or two bottles of cleaner left between registers, and I kept having to borrow everyone else's tags. It's annoying. Where on EARTH is this stuff going?

I went for a walk after work. I had to run to Family Dollar for soap and Strawberry Newtons. I had the chance to stop and talk to my neighbor as I left. He said he'd look at the wheel on my older blue bike tomorrow and see if he had a tarp and some rust remover for both. Good. I really need to take better care of both bikes. They're my only transportation besides my feet and the public variety.

It was a surprisingly silent night. No one was out and about. It's still hot and muggy, but there was a nice breeze and it wasn't too bad in the shade by 5PM. Neither Family Dollar nor WaWa (where I went for a Chocolate-Cherry Coke Zero) were busy, either.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Mouse With the Electric Personality

I ran the usual Farm Market/bank/yard sale chores this morning. It was hot and muggy, and it just didn't seem as busy as usual in the neighborhood. Even the Farm Market wasn't quite as bustling. With fewer dogs and people around, I had no problems buying leeks, spinach, whole-wheat bread, two small organic cucumbers (they were a quarter each!), blueberries, cherries, celery, and the first New Jersey peaches of the season.

There were few yard sales this week, too. They didn't have much. I did find one double-family sale on Kendall Boulevard with a nice selection of stuffed animals. I finally bought a completely adorable Pichu. Pichu is the rare "baby" form of the mouse-like electric Pokemon Pikachu. Apparently, this fellow had once been a talking Pichu, but was no longer able to talk. I was going to change his batteries when I got home and discovered his "voice box" has an on-off switch. I turned him on, and he works fine. Why doesn't every talking stuffed toy come with one of those?

I spent the rest of the morning cuddling Pichu, reading books, and listening to records. I'm actually sort of glad there wasn't much going on today. The humidity was nasty and I was sweating buckets by the time I got in.

Work was on-and-off busy, with no real problems other than some obnoxious customers. It's almost the beginning of the month and getting close to a major holiday. That's to be expected.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Rain

I woke up late again this morning and had blueberry muffins, but I was almost late for work! Not a good thing today. We were off-and-on busy all day long. Thankfully, other than a lack of front-end managers, there were no other real problems. My relief was slightly late, but he said he got waylaid by a couple of old ladies looking for items on his way to the front.

The local weather reports have listed "scattered thunderstorms" every day for almost a week now. I hadn't seen a rain drop yet...until I got out of the Acme around ten of 6 after doing some grocery shopping. It poured on my way home, and I got soaked. I stopped under a tree on Kendall Boulevard in the hope it would slow down, but it never did. I got tired of waiting and decided to live with getting wet instead.

I had a message from Rose when I got in. Mom called her and told her something bad happened, but Rose didn't elaborate over the phone. I called Mom. According to her, my three-year-old nephew Skylar went into a grand seizure this morning. He was sleeping between my sister Anny and her boyfriend Mike. When she tried to wake him, his eyes were open, but he wasn't responding. Anny thought he looked like he was going to be sick, so she took him into the bathroom. He was sick there, but his limbs were all rubbery. Anny and Mike got him in the car to take him into the hospital. Three blocks from their apartment, Skylar went stiff and started to choke. They pulled over in North Wildwood and let Skylar cough up more gunk, this time frothy. Thoroughly frightened, Mike called 911 while Anny handled her son. Thanks to the popularity of the Wildwood Islands with young adults and teens, there are cops all over the islands in the summer. An officer answered their call in less than three minutes; an ambulance was there in less than five.

Skylar originally rode out his seizure in Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital in Cape May Courthouse, about 10 minutes from North Wildwood. Skylar gave them such a hard time after he got out of his seizure that they had to subdue him. A three-year-old waking up in a strange place and having no idea how he'd gotten there isn't a good combination with Sky's aggressive personality. Burdette Tomlin was going to let him go after they felt the danger had passed, but Anny said she'd rather wait for Sky's pediatrician instead. She was right. The pediatrician recommended he go to Cooper University Hospital's Pediatric Neurology department for further evaulation. He was there as of quarter of 7PM, resting. Mom says they haven't tested him yet; tonight, they're just observing him.

Actually, as scary as this was for Anny and Skylar, I think this might ultimately prove to be helpful for both. I'm wondering if Sky may have epilepsy. Mom told me she thinks Skylar there, not really looking or listening or moving, just a little stiff for a few minutes. She also said he's been complaining about feeling "hot and dizzy" a lot, often right before he goes stiff. I remember a few kids in Special Services who had epilepsy, and I studied it briefly when I took psychology classes in college, too.

Mom said she'll call again when they get through the tests and Sky's let go, which probably won't be until tomorrow evening at the earliest. I might see if I can get Anny's address (I forgot to write it down after she sent me that birthday card) and send Sky a get-well-soon card to cheer up him and his mother.

I went out to dinner at the Oaklyn Manor Bar down the street after that to cheer up ME. The Oaklyn Manor Bar is one of the few watering holes in the Camden suburbs. Most of the small towns around here are dry. (I think the only other "wet" town nearby is Westmont.) It was busy when I got in, but I knew it would be. Unless people feel like hiking to Philly and risking Mother Nature's wrath (the rain had stopped by this point, but it was still cloudy and damp), there aren't too many other choices. The menu is limited but tasty. I bought a chicken steak with fried onions that was very good, not too greasy and just the right size. (I ate the whole thing and didn't feel like a bloated whale afterwards, like I often do after I eat big restaurant sandwiches.)

After dinner, I was going to go for a walk, but it started to rain again and I cut it short. I made a brief stop at Uncle Ken's to see if Dad, Jess, and Jodie were back from Bethlehem. Not only were they back, but Vanessa, Brittany, Mark, Dolores, Dolores' grandchildren Blake and Mercedes, and a friend of Vanessa's named Tasha were all sitting on the porch, chatting as the rain fell. I talked to them for a while and finalized 4th of July plans (we're going to go to Uncle Ken's daughter Samantha's house in the mid-afternoon after I get in from work), then headed home.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here, There, Everywhere

I did a LOT of running around today. Unfortunately, I discovered you have to send in a form to get the vision insurance claim benefits. Rose and I did go to the Lens Crafters at the Cherry Hill Mall today, but we decided to wait until I'd sent in the claim, so no, I didn't get my glasses replaced. I have an old pair with my older prescription. I can see well enough to get by, although these are slightly weaker and it's not as easy to see far-away print now. Oh well. That's what I get for not going to an eye doctor for seven years. We'll go back or to somewhere similar after I get my claim.

Rose and I did some other shopping. She's trying to get her clothes together for her trip to Costa Rica next month, and I wanted a dress or a nice spring skirt. I did get a skirt at the Gap. It's a knee-length, ruffled skirt that swirls when it twirls. I've always had a weakness for dresses that twirl. It's a little frou-frou, but it's cute and it does look nice on me. Not only was it on sale for $12.99, but it was a Large. I haven't worn a Large since high school! Between the price and the size, that skirt made me very happy.

I had lunch after Rose dropped me off, then went to Collingswood to say "hi" to Erica at the thrift shop, drop off a few donations, and head over to Genesis for counseling. Scott and I mainly talked about trying to control my fits of frustration around other people. It IS hard. The first thing that comes to mind when I do something dumb is that I shouldn't have done it and it was stupid. I know it's harsh, but...I shouldn't have done it. I also know I'll never get a real job if I can't calm down and not get upset at work.

After counseling, I threw caution (and the hot, muggy weather) to the wind and decided that a few hours in Philadelphia was better than none. I was able to go to my favorite FYE and Borders on Broad Street and up to the Gallery Mall. It's not what I had planned, but it's what I was able to do with the time I had, and I did get something I wanted - the newly released Sword In the Stone: 45th Anniversary Edition DVD that the local FYE didn't have.

I didn't get home until around quarter after six, and it was around 6:30 when I finally got to doing my laundry. Uncle Ken was chatting with his neighbors and listening to a Phillies game on the radio. (He switched to WOGL after the game ended.) I read The Elusive Pimpernel, ate Uncle Ken's ham and bean soup, and went for a relaxing swim with some of the neighborhood kids and their parents.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When Things Were Rotten

Today was not a good day. No, I never made it to Yogawood. I slept too late. I walked over to Dad's and gave him his share of the Christmas and Easter pictures instead. (There were a few shots of my porch in the fall and during the only snowstorm we had last year, and three pictures of Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations I took to remember how I did them so I can do them again more-or-less the same way this year. Obviously, Dad didn't get those.) Dad was still cleaning the pool, this time sweeping the bottom. I caught him at a good time. He, Jodie, and Jessa are going on a trip to Bethlehem, PA to visit relatives and to do some work for Campbell's Soup for Jodie. (Campbell's has their headquarters in Camden and Jodie is a tour guide and head of phone operators there.)

I went for a walk around the neighborhood after I left Dad. I wandered down some side streets behind West Clinton and ended up at the Oaklyn-Lions Park. I rode a few slides and goofed around a little at the playground, then headed home across the large lawn/baseball field. I wasn't even half-way there when I felt something small and sharp sting one of my toes. Sure enough, there was a huge bee dripping nasty stuff on my toes and sandal. Ugh. I managed to get both the bee and the stinger out, but I limped to Doria's Deli for roast beef and a Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi soda, and then limped home.

I remembered Mom used made a paste out of baking soda and water and apply that to bee stings, so I did that as soon as I got in. It still feels a little sore, but not as bad as when it first happened. I must have gotten the stinger out in time. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking up Free Library of Philadelphia Branches near the PATCO stops without much luck. Apparently, most of the people in the Philadelphia area who read are in northern or western Philly. I only found four anywhere close to the PATCO - one in Chinatown, two on South Broad Street, and one in South Philly. I was hoping to volunteer at one of them.

Work was going fine until an hour and a half before my shift was done. I took off my glasses to wipe them and accidentally bent the wire frames. When I tried to pull them back into shape, one side of the glasses snapped off the nose piece! I was so upset. No matter what nice things my customers said, I still felt embarrassed. I had to work almost literally blind as one of my co-workers tried to glue them back together. It didn't work. The glue just got all over the lenses. There just wasn't enough to reattach. (Good thing I can pretty much do the register by rote now.) I ended up having to call for a ride home. One of the teenage girls managed to tape them together long enough for Jodie and Jessa to get me and my bike home and for me to go over to Dad's house to see if anyone there could help.

Dad and Uncle Ken finally used something hot and smelly called Nassau to get them to stick together temporarily after duct tape and more super glue didn't hold. Rose and her boyfriend Craig were there, too. Rose offered to take me to the Lens Crafters in the Cherry Hill Mall tomorrow to get new frames and maybe even (finally) get my eyes examined. That's something else I've put off for seven years. I haven't been to the eye doctor or had new glasses since 2001. I haven't had the money! I was seriously broke for at least two years after moving to Wildwood, which was not helped by the sudden death of my laptop.

This means I'll have to do the laundry later than planned. I can't do it on Friday morning - I work at 11PM. It means I may not get into Philadelphia like I'd hoped, which means I won't be able to for the second week in a row.

This is just so, so frustrating. It's what happens when you procrastinate. I shouldn't have put off getting glasses and doing my teeth once I did have the money. It might not have cost so much now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summertime Dreams

What a gorgeous, perfect summer's day. It was at least 80 degrees, no humidity, with a wonderfully cool wind. I didn't have to work until 4PM, so I had a late breakfast of a cheddar and mushroom omelet and an English muffin and called Mom to say "hi," since I couldn't get her yesterday. I did catch her this time. Apparently yes, Skylar was kicked out of day care, and Anny can't afford the more expensive summer sessions anyway, so Mom and Dad are taking care of him in the mornings until his mother comes home. She seemed happy enough. She and Sky were taking advantage of the cooler day and baking cupcakes with green icing (Sky's favorite color). She loves to cook, and it sounds like Sky does, too. Maybe it helped that she had him alone. Dad's on a fishing trip and Keefe was working at a local day cooking camp for pre-teens held at the high school that he once attended himself.

I decided that since I worked late anyway, I'd do this week's library volunteering in the morning instead of on the afternoon of my day off. I already have counseling and laundry planned for Thursday, and possibly a short trip into Philadelphia if the weather stays nice (which it's not supposed to). I worked on the children's DVDs, which needed it after my absence last week, and headed out. I picked up a cookie mix from Dollar Tree, but it turned out to be a bad idea. The mix tasted weird, chalky and VERY stale, and didn't improve as actual cookies. I ended up throwing them away. (Of course, I didn't notice that the box had expired a year ago until AFTER I mixed the cookies. No more cheap dollar store mixes after this!)

Not surprisingly, given the gorgeous day, work was dead. It got a little busy around between 4:30 and 6:30, the usual rush hour time, but otherwise everyone seemed to be out enjoying the lovely day (as well they should), and there were no major problems.

I finally picked up my pictures from Rite Aid before work. They were mostly from last Christmas and Easter, with a few shots of fall foliage, the only major snow storm we had this past winter, and one picture I got of Taylere's graduation before I realized I'd brought the camera that was almost done instead of the new one. Except for the first picture (I have no idea what that was), they all came out very, very well. I'm glad I got some nice shots of Jessa in particular - like my brother Keefe, she's not fond of picture-taking.

I'm debating whether or not to try Yogawood tomorrow. They're having a half-price sale on the first class of the day, but I just got that time of the month, and you're not supposed to do yoga during that time of the month. However, I told Scott I'd go to a class three weeks ago, and I've put it off. Last week, I had a legitmate reason - I was barely up for work, much less classes - but I didn't two weeks ago and I'm not sure that I do now.

On one hand, I feel bad. I told him I'd do it, and people should keep their promises. And I do want to do it. On the other hand, I also told Rose I'd wait until the fall and go to a class with her, and I'm very nervous about it. I'm not that great at yoga, and I'm afraid that everyone will know everyone and will have the right clothes and do the right things and I'll look stupid and babyish again, just like I always do. I must sound like such a baby. I shouldn't worry about things.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Battling the Cold

I went to CVS this morning for more daytime cold medicine. (I still have plenty of the nighttime capsules left.) It was cloudy, damp, and muggy, but relatively cool. They've been threatening isolated, scattered thunderstorms for the past two or three days now, but all we've had are the occasional cloud. As long as it doesn't rain while I'm on the bike, I wish we WOULD get those storms. We need them. It's getting really dry out there.

I stopped really quick at Uncle Ken's house to say "hi" to Dad, who was cleaning the pool. Whatever I have seems to be going around, and not just at the Acme, either. Jessa's sick now, too. No wonder she was so out of it when we watched Hannah Montana together last Thursday. (I hope I didn't give it to her...)

I spent the rest of the morning puttering around on the computer and reading Cheaper By The Dozen. My head is still stuffy and I'm still coughing and sneezing, but my sore throat and any lingering remains of last week's fever are gone. Once again, I spent a busy work day sucking on cough drops. (Good thing they had plenty of help and no need for me beyond my scheduled four hours.) I stopped at the Rite Aid next-door to the Acme to pick up my film. The film turned out to be almost $13 (they're mostly Christmas pictures - I got doubles for Dad and Uncle Ken), and I only had $10 on me. I'll get it tomorrow evening.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Purr-Fect WebKinz!

Oh, and I forgot! Meet Yum-Yum, my purrr-fectly witty and sophisticated Siamese Cat! She's the queen of the KinzBeach Boardwalk, living in and running the KinzBeach Resort Hotel and Cafe. She came with a Posing Plant that will join her Settee in the lobby of the "hotel" and my first Amethyst Geode. (I have no idea what I'll do with that. Maybe it'll be a boulder in one of my yards...)
Running Hot and Colds

The cold continues. I coughed all through work today. I sucked on a LOT of cough drops. Jean called me around 9AM and asked me if I wanted to come in at 10:30 instead of 11:30. I said no. I'd just gotten up, and it was bad enough I had to cough around people for five hours, much less six. Work was busy, too, with long lines all through the day. There was plenty of help, so I'm not sure what the early call was for.

Rose called me while I was at work. She had some time off, and she wondered if I wanted to go visit the family on Tuesday? Sorry, I have work that day. She said she and her boyfriend Craig would go to the Poconos instead. She said she has a week off after the Fourth of July weekend, and we're usually dead then and I won't be going on vacation until September, so we might try again then.

Oh, and I finally finished The Greatest American Hero: Season 2 today. Started with some fairly goofy episodes, but ended strong, with two episodes in a row about being careful whom you date - Ralph's mother falls for a con artist in Who's Woo In America, and FBI agent Bill Maxwell becomes enamored with a woman who turns out to be an enemy agent in Lilacs, Mr. Maxwell. One of the first episodes was my very favorite. We learn more about the history of Ralph's infamous red super suit and question the nature of death in Don't Mess Around With Jim, when Ralph and Bill are the target of an aging multi-millionaire who knows an awful lot about Ralph's big secret. Other good episodes include the touching Train of Thought, the spooky ghost tale The Beast In Black, and the surprisingly sweet Captain Bellybuster and the Speed Factory.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hot Summer Cold

The flu I've had all week has downgraded to a summer cold, but it's still not fun. At the very least, my headache and neck ache are gone and I don't feel (abnormally) hot, but I've been sneezing and coughing all day, and now my throat is sore again from coughing so much!

Other than my cold, today went somewhat well. I did my usual farm-market/yard sale/bank run this morning. I'll be making the Farm Market errands run every morning that I work early enough until late November, when the Farm Market closes for the year. I picked up cherries, celery, blueberry butter, a block of cheddar cheese, mushrooms, string beans, and the first New Jersey blueberries of the season from the Farm Market.

I bought two WebKinz, the just-released Siamese Cat and the Pet-of-the-Month Elephant, from the Collingswood Variety Store after leaving the Farm Market. (I was lucky to find the Elephant. One of the stock people had to go in the back and look for it, and it was apparently one of the last they had left.) I stopped in the thrift shop to say "hi" to Erica. She thanked me profusely for the card and pumpkin butter I gave her last week.

I made a few yard sale finds today, though I didn't do quite as good as last week. I bought a Beanie Baby Turkey and a Wolf with odd ruby-red eyes for fall decorations (Thanksgiving and Halloween respectively - that wolf looks more like the were variety). I found a Sailor Moon Trapper-Keeper at one sale and a stack of records at another. Picked up Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run, the original 1972 Broadway cast of Grease, more George Benson (Breezin'), Madonna's True Blue, the soundtrack for the 1969 movie version of Oliver, and Alternatives, a collection of non-hit B-sides of popular folk and rock performers of the late 60s and early 70s, including Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, and the Mothers Of Invention.

I got in around noon and had lunch and hung out until it was time to go to work. Despite leaving on time, I was almost late. The chain on my bike came loose about half-way to the Acme. I ended up having to walk part-way. I wasn't happy, but I was (just barely) on time and no one was angry but me...and even I calmed down when I realized everyone was in a fairly good mood, customers and employees alike, and there were no problems. (And one of the teen boys was able to fix my bike, so I did ride home.)

Oh, and meet Louis, my WebKinz Elephant! Louis is a jazz-playing, joke-loving pachyderm who lives in a loft above the KinzBeach and Boardwalk. Louis' Pet-of-the-Month gift, the Sparkle-Making Machine, inspired me to finally set up a room I've wanted to make for a long time - the KinzBeach Boardwalk! I made my WebKinz their own Wildwood Boardwalk, complete with two "rides" (I finally figured out what to do with my flying saucer and two airplanes, and Louis' Big Top Cart fit in nicely, too), a food booth, and two "games" (knock-the-baseball-off-the-can and balloon darts). I'd gotten a lot of random toys lately that made for perfect game prizes. Finally found a spot for a lot of the balloons that I've gathered, too.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summertime's Here!

And it was a perfect day to kick off summer with, sunny, bright, breezy, and in the mid-upper 70s. I slept in again and spent most of the morning doing laundry, which I put off yesterday because I wasn't feeling well. I'm still not. I'm still sniffling, but I'm coughing now, too, which may be a good indication that whatever is clogging my head is loosening. The sore throat is gone, too. Whatever I had Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday seems to have downgraded to a nasty summer cold. I still have a headache, stuffy head, and sore neck, but everything else is gone.

I spent the morning watching Hannah Montana episodes with Jessa. Most of the reports I've gotten on this show from adults have said that it's almost annoyingly bland. I don't know about that. I think it's adorable. It reminds me of a lot of goofy fantasy-oriented sitcoms from the mid-late 80s that involved teenagers or young adults in outlandish situations. Is the idea of a 14-year-old girl with a double life as a rock star and a high schooler any different than a teenager who is half-human, half alien and has strange powers (Out of this World), a male nanny and his charges (Charles In Charge), a wisecracking, cat-eating alien living with a normal Earth family (Alf), a literal storybook family ending up in the real world (The Charmings), a rich, child-like dad bonding with his very adult son (Silver Spoons), or man building a girl-like robot for his family (Small Wonder)?

Actually, I was surprisingly impressed with Hannah Montana. Yes, it's contrived and silly and very standard sitcom fare, with everyone overacting through the roof, but it's also colorful, slickly produced, and a great deal of fun. In fact, the music was my biggest complaint. It sounds a little too much like every other kiddie act on the market for my taste. The show, however, is sweet. In one episode, Miley sleepwalks after spending several sleepless nights trying to figure out how to tell her dad that she thinks his new song is horrible and get around her brother's desperate attempt to have a party. In another, Miley (in her Hannah guise) manages to get into a celebrity tennis tournament with a hot doubles player and is given one ticket, which sets off an argument between her male and female best friend as to who should go. (Personally, I think she should have left both of her friends behind and just brought her dad, no matter how embarrassing that would be for a 14-year-old.) You get the picture. The humor is broad and obvious, and the writing is typical sitcom shenanigans, but Miley Cyrus and Emily Osmet have nice comic timing and handle the gag-filled script well.

I was less fond of the male characters. Hannah's brother Jackson, her best guy friend Ryan, and Rico, the little brat who owns the ice cream stand where Jackson works, were all annoying dorks. Billy Ray Cyrus just seemed to be out of place (no matter that he is Miley's dad in real life). Other than that, like High School Musical, I can understand why Hannah's become such a sensation. The show and the music are harmless, fluffy fun.

I went to work shortly after getting in. Work was steady to busy, and will likely remain so on the weekends until after the Fourth of July. Most people will be occupied with barbecues, birthday parties, and graduation parties for the rest of the month.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Sickness and In Health

I still didn't feel quite right when I awoke this morning. My fever had lessened and my sore throat wasn't quite as bad, but I still had a headache, was tired, congested, and too warm. No, I never made it to Philly, or to anything else. I debated whether or not to go on and off all day, but ultimately, the furthest I went was to Doria's Deli for some roast beef and to WaWa for a Cherry Light Lemonade.

I was able to do a few things today besides read and nap. I baked a small batch of Honey Cookies (bar cookies from an English baking book) and was able to post our latest Monkees role play story, Ladies' Choice, at our site.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fever In the Morning and Night

Ugh. By the time I got off line last night, I was in the midst of a full-blown fever. My head was sweaty, but the rest of me was freezing. I pressed a cool cloth to my head, drank lots of liquids, cuddled under blankets, and slept in. When I did finally get up, I wasn't nearly as warm or cold, though I was still a little bit of both. I spent the morning resting, reading, and editing last night's role play part.

Because I was feeling better, I did go to work. It was only 4 and 1/2 hours, and it was pretty much the same as yesterday - steady-to-dead, with no major problems.

I'm still not all the way there, though. I still have a headache, stuffy head, and achy neck, and my sore throat feels worse. If I'm not feeling better than this by tomorrow, I'm going to just hang out all day. Work was bad enough. I don't think I'll be up to doing the laundry, my library volunteering, and a trip to Philly. I'll do the Laundry on Friday, just skip volunteering this week, and go into Philly on my next day off.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Goes Around...

I think I finally got it. Whatever has been taking out a quarter of the Acme's employees has gotten to me. I feel lousy. I have headache, I have a stomachache, I feel warm (despite a much cooler, 80-degree day), I have a sore throat, I'm tired.

I had the headache and sore throat this morning, but I took ibruprophin and a throat drop this morning and felt well enough to go for a ride. I didn't want to sit around like I did yesterday. It was just too nice.

I rode down the White Horse Pike, past Oaklyn and Audubon, up to the corner of East Kings' Highway and the White Horse Pike. I explored the small stores and cafes I saw there when I was in the area on my birthday in April. The gift shop was pretty much a larger version of Wilie the Woodsman in Audubon, with almost the exact same selection of WebKinz at a few dollars more. (The clothes were cheaper than Willie's, but I really don't like to dress up my offline stuffed animals. It seems silly. I may eventually buy or make red shirts and trousers for my Monkee WebKinz, and some of the seasonal WebKinz may also get appropriate costumes.)

I also stopped at a little ice cream parlor/cafe called Coffee Garden on the other end of the block. I had a bottled green iced tea that was too sweet and a strawberry scone that tasted of strawberries that had been out for too long. Maybe I'll try the ice cream next time.

In the spirit of adventure (and in an attempt to fill some time, since I didn't work until 4 today), I crossed the busy East Kings' Highway/White Horse Pike intersection and continued down East Kings' Highway. I rode down the highway, dodging cars, phone repair trucks, and annoying little dogs. (What did I say about people not keeping their dogs on leashes, especially on a major road?) I found myself at Newton Lake Park in Mt. Ephram, a town about 15 minutes or so by bike from Oaklyn and less than 5 from the Audubon Acme and Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. It was partly cloudy, windy, and cooler than it has been, but the green trees and lapping lake were refreshing after the road.

I made my way to Mt. Ephram. I've never been there on my own before. It's one of the many little towns on the Black Horse Pike, the busier, northern cousin of the White Horse Pike. Unlike the White Horse Pike, most of the businesses on the Black Horse Pike probably date to between the 30s and the 70s, when America's love-affair with the car was at an all-time high. Rose had warned me that Mt. Ephram could be very rough and nasty, but I had no problems when I was there. It's probably worse after dark.

I found another store that was rumored to have WebKinz. Kerry's Party Store looked more-or-less like the Collingswood Variety Store or a Dollar Tree exploded. Nothing was organized, there were piles of everything on all of the shelves, and things were jammed everywhere. It looked like a mess, but I did manage to find a shower curtain (thought I'd try a nice yellow, magenta, and green floral print). I finally found the WebKinz on a shelf behind the counter. (Probably to keep that rough town from stealing the tags. I've heard about that happening in some places, although I've never seen a WebKinz in the store without a tag.) WebKinz large and small were only $10, but they didn't have anything I wanted.

I made a quick stop in CVS to see if they had any Sensodyne on sale; when they didn't, I headed down the Black Horse Pike to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center, passing the Golden Corral on the way. The Golden Corral is a buffet restaraunt like Old Country Buffet, but much larger. I'll have to go there sometime after work, now that I know it's behind PepBoys.

I ended up in FYE to see if they had The Sword In the Stone: 45th Anniversary Edition in yet. Alas, their shipment hadn't arrived. The kid at the desk was just as disappointed as me; apparently, Sword In the Stone is one of his favorite Disney movies. I ended up with my second venture into 21st Century technology in two days instead, a small MP3 player, one that can be carried around on a clip or a key ring. I thought I'd rip CDs onto it for long trips like my bus rides to New England. It would save an amazing amount of room in my carry-on bag.

I rested when I got home. I still wasn't feeling that great, but since I was able to to for a ride, I decided to go to work. I'm probably lucky it wasn't busy tonight and there was plenty of help for the first time in ages. By the time I got home, I'd added an achy neck to everything else I felt.

Oh yes, and two announcements. First of all, Lauren and I finished the main story of this month's Monkees Role Play tonight and will do the tag tomorrow. Look for it within the next few days, depending on how my head feels.

Speaking of Lauren, congradulations to her other favorite team, the Boston Celtics, for defeating the Los Angeles Lakers and winning their first NBA Championship in 16 years and their 17th title overall. While we're at it, I'll also extend some congrats to the Philadelphia 76ers for making it to the playoffs despite a so-so year. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Phoning In the 21st Century

I spent most of the morning puttering around online and editing the last few parts of this month's Monkees Role Play story. Around 1PM, Dad called and told me he was going to give me Jessa's old cell phone, as Jessa had just gotten a new one. I'd be on his family plan. I'll have to ask him about payment. He said he'd pay, but I want to contribute something.

I'm still figuring the darn thing out. I don't really want to use it much. I still don't like cell phones. I think they're intrusive unless you're a mother or a doctor or someone who really does need to be on call. It took me a while, but I did figure out how to delete the phone numbers of Jessa's 6,000 friends from the phone book. (For a kid who doesn't do much besides sit in her room, watch anime, work on art projects, and download music, she's sure popular.) It's charging in the living room now. I'll mess with it more tomorrow, along with checking out that makeup kit Rose gave me.

The weather today was on-and-off cloudy, windy, and still hot but not quite as bad as it has been. It's supposed to drop into the mid-70s starting tomorrow before going back to being hot by the weekend, according to Yahoo!Weather. We were supposed to get isolated thunderstorms today, but while it did get dark outside around 6PM, I don't think it's rained yet.

Work was busy, which isn't uncommon on a Monday, but we had more sick people and more call-outs and were low on help again. Thankfully, it was starting to thin out by the time I went home.

I also found out that the Acme got rid of its constantly malfunctioning photo machine and never replaced it. I'm strictly a low-tech girl. If I don't need the fancy version, I won't use it. I'm fine with buying disposable cameras for holidays, vacations, and events. I eventually dropped my finally-used-up-camera next-door at Rite Aid.

Oh, and I finally called my stepfather tonight. He was happily watching last year's version of Hairspray, but only because thunderstorms in the area had interfered with their satelite signal and disrupted his constant Law & Order and CSI re-runs.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oh My Papas

First of all, Happy Father's Day to all dads, including my own!

Second, while we're celebrating events, congratulations to all Class of 2008 high school and college graduates, including my cousin Taylere and all of the Audubon Acme employees who graduate this year.

I spent most of the day at work. I listened to the WOGL "Brunch With the Beatles" show (Paul McCartney was in the spotlight today - it would appear his birthday is this week) and tried calling my stepdad. Got Mom - apparently, he'd gone out with my brother, and she was on her way into a shower. I'll try again tomorrow.

Work was long and busy. I ended up staying an extra hour, since we had two night call-outs. As I mentioned, not only are many of the teenagers who work at the Acme graduating this year, but there are parents who have graduating kids, too. A lot of people are going to be very busy this week.

Oh, and I'm not going to eat dinner on the porch from now on. I don't have problems with breakfast, but I had my late dinner of leftover burgers and broccoli, cherries, and bread outside and the bugs almost ate ME.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Splash-tastic Party

I did my usual bank-Farm Market-yard sale run this morning. I actually made some terrific yard sale finds, for once. One multi-family yard sale yielded a folksy sunflower-and-heart plaque and LPs for Bonnie Raitt, Areatha Franklin, Eric Clapton, The Blues Brothers, and Bette Midler. Another had Sailor Moon items; I ended up with one of those Play-and-Sound kids' books and a nifty motor-scooter-type vehicle intended for the smaller 1997 dolls. Their neighbor had a real vintage Rainbow Brite doll. She was missing her belt but was otherwise perfectly intact. I finally got two pants for work from the thrift shop. The waistbands were a bit stretched on both pants, but they're also size 16s. A yard sale in Collingswood had 70s Wilton cake decorating books like my mom's. I managed to find copies of the paperback 1976 and 1978 Wilton cake decorating books, neither of which Mom had.

The Farm Market was busy as always. I picked up strawberries, turnips, bread, bananas, an onion, pumpkin butter for my friend Erica, and the first cherries of the season. I had a quick, simple lunch of Farm Market cherries and strawberries, yogurt, and bread when I got home, then went to Erica's to drop off her pumpkin butter and card and to Dad's to join him and Jodie for the trip to Washington Township for Taylere's graduation party. (We picked up Jessa from her art class on the way.)

The party was a lot of fun. I met Karen, Jim, and Taylere's relatives from Minnesota (where Karen was born and Jim lived for many years) and their adorable kids. Karen and Jim have a pool. It's smaller than Uncle Ken's, but it's newer and it has a nifty little rock-like waterfall. Everyone had a blast playing with the floats and each other in the pool. Dad loves pools. He actually threw me at one point! Only the threat of a thunderstorm and the lure of Jim's badminton net finally got the last of the little boys out.

Tay, Jessa, and I played tag and hide-and-seek with some of the little kids after dinner, but by that point, it was becoming obvious that a thunderstorm was on its way. Ever-neurotic Karen went ballistic getting all of the things in the pool and on the patio rounded up and indoors. After we'd cleared the area, several adults (and a few kids until the thunder became obvious) sat or stood on the patio steps and watched the storm roll in.

I joined Tay, Jess, and Taylere's only little girl cousin in a coloring book session and talked with various mothers around the room. (The dads were all watching golf; the little boys were watching the Steve Martin Pink Panther on their portable DVD players after attempting to play with a plastic ball indoors.) A couple of the little kids joined Tay, Jess, and me for an episode of Digimon before Dad decided that the storm had abated long enough for us to head home.

I had a really fun day. I still felt a little awkward around the adults, being the only 30-something adult there without kids, but everything went very well and I really enjoyed it. Karen, Jim, Taylere, and their toddler son C.J are really cool people. We went to their house for Easter, too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Luck of the Banana

Here's some luck for your Friday the 13th - a quick, easy-to-make, low-fat Banana Cream Pie! Make it for your next summer barbecue or graduation party.

1 Box Sugar-Free, Fat-Free Vanilla or Banana Cream Pudding/Pie Mix (I used Sugar Free Acme brand, but any would probably work)
1 3/4 cup Skim Milk (or the amount specified on the pudding package)
1 large banana
1 8-inch Graham Cracker, Low-Fat Graham Cracker, or Shortbread Crust (I used Keebler Shortbread, but any will do)
1 8oz tub Light Whipped Topping

Prepare the pudding as specified for preparing pie mix on the box. After you mix the pudding and the milk, slice the bananas and add them to the mix. Pour into the pie crust and put in the refrigerator. Chill for a half-hour, or until almost firm.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Thaw the whipped topping and spread that on the banana mixture. Return the pie to the refrigerator and let it chill for an hour.
Working For A Living

One of the managers called me around 9AM. Could I come in at 11, instead of 2:30? Two people had called out sick. That was fine. I'd had no major plans for the morning at all. I just had breakfast, packed my lunch and dinner, and headed to work. It was still hot, but not QUITE as bad as it has been, and my rides to and from work were pleasant.

Work was pleasant, too. It was steady-to-busy all day long. There were no major problems beyond the two people who called out. No one else called out, there were no major altercations with customers, and my relief was on time.

I'd been trying to think of something I could bring to Taylere's graduation party tomorrow. I originally considered brownies, since Duncan Hines Brownie Mixes are on sale this week for a dollar, but I didn't know what my apartment would be like at night and I didn't want to make it too hot in there. I saw a customer buy a Keebler Shortbread Pie Crust that was on sale, and then I thought, "maybe I'll make a pudding pie." The banana I had at dinner gave me the idea to make a Banana Cream Pie. I picked up a shortbread crust, vanilla sugar-free pudding mix, and Acme generic whipped topping after work, along with applesauce, a grapefruit, Breyers Light Yogurt, double-fiber Thomas English muffins, and granola bars. I put together the pie while watching The Greatest American Hero episodes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Little Piece of Italian Heaven

It was a warm, sunny day when I poked my head out the door after waking up. In fact, it was warmer than yesterday and still too warm for this time of year, but also not humid. I woke up late, so I just had a quick shredded wheat breakfast before putting out the bills and heading over to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session.

Getting to the library proved to be a problem. There was some kind of phone line work going on that was blocking Cuthbert Road near the Super Fresh. I finally just cut across someone's yard (it didn't look like they were home) and went around it.

I enjoyed working on the children's DVDs at the library today. I helped a 2 and 1/2-year-old girl and her mother find Disney DVDs they hadn't seen yet. The little girl picked The Rescuers (smart kid - that's my favorite). I pointed out the library's newly-bought copy of 101 Dalmations to her mama, and she said they didn't have that and added it to their pile. I also got to listen to the mother read a Curious George book about the infamous trouble-causing monkey accidentally wrecking havoc at an animal shelter and another story about a little girl whose cat runs away. Shortly after they left, a little boy was looking for some Thomas the Tank Engine. I helped him find some before his mother fussed to him that they already had several DVDs picked.

I made a brief stop at Super Fresh on the way home but they didn't have anything on sale that I wanted. After I got in, I had a very quick and simple lunch of celery sticks, yogurt, and Fig Newtons before going over to Uncle Ken's to do my laundry. As I had two weeks ago, I had to take the long way around because the stupid train was blocking the path between Manor and Hillcrest.

The pool was worth the walk. It was incredibly, amazingly warm when I went in. The thermometer tethered to the steps on the deep end said the water was 85 degrees! It felt soooo nice. The recent heat wave was good for something. Dad says he's normally just opening the pool in mid-June and that it's not normally this warm until well into August!

I had a nice chat with Dad while my laundry was still in the washer. Dad showed me the pictures from the dinner with Rose a few weeks ago. They all came out really well, especially the ones of all of us. I also got to see some great shots of Jodie's youngest son Jesse and his date before they left for and as they were about to enter their senior prom. (I like the prom outfits teenage girls are wearing nowadays. Jesse's girlfriend wore a Grecian-style gown the same shade of bright blue as Uncle Ken's pool, and several of her girlfriends wore eclectic floral or zig-zag-print dresses. Beats the boring all-black or pastel strappy dresses that were the in thing in the mid-90s when I was in high school.)

Rose finally remembered to leave her birthday present for me at Dad's. She gave me a fancy make-up kit in the soft browns and creams I love and six records. Four of the six were big-band albums, but the remaining two were George Benson Plays Abby Road and the 1967 Colgems mono version of The Monkees' third album Headquarters. The latter was a particularly cool find. I had the 1986 Rhino re-release of Headquarters on LP, but not the original 60s one. Sweet.

I went back to my apartment after my swim to rest before dinner and put my clothes away. The train was finally gone when I headed back over to Uncle Ken's. Dad, Jodie, Jessa, and I headed over to Anthony's, the Italian restaurant where Rose works in Haddon Heights. Uncle Ken and Dolores were already there when we arrived. We'd been wanting to try the place where Rose worked on a night when she was there.

Dinner was wonderful! Everyone but Jodie tried something called a three course meal. You're served an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert for a flat price of $25. I opted for the Escarole Egg-Drop Soup, the Organic Salmon, and the Canolli. The soup was a little salty, but the escarole was delicious and slightly crisp. (I haven't had escarole since it was one of the only vegetables I could find in the Wildwood Acme in the winter.) The salmon was nicely cooked in herbs, and I really loved the wilted greens and sauteed wild mushrooms - I'm a huge fan of mushrooms and of greens. I haven't had a real canolli since college, either, and this one had a nice and crunchy shell with a very, very sweet cream cheese filling. I also tried a bite of Dolores' bread pudding and a little of Jodie's Veal Picatta Medallions, which were quite good, too. We also had bruscetta, good, crusty bread, and a small antipasto dish. (Loved the sharp cheddar that came with the antipasto. I wonder if they get theirs from the Farm Market?) Uncle Ken and Dolores took me home, since Dad and Jodie were taking Jessa to an end-of-the-school-year party (her Catholic high school finished today), and we all went home will full bellies and endless praise for Rose and Anthony's other staff members, including it's namesake owner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Under the Porch

I continued my outdoor cleaning today after running to Doria's Deli down the street for turkey lunch meat. I gave my two bikes a good scrubbing, especially the poor blue bike that's been left under the porch for almost a year because it blew a tire. There wasn't anything I could do about the rust on either bike, but they both look better now. I'm going to keep the other bike up here from now on. I swept the porch after that, then spent the rest of the afternoon before work doing computer stuff.

It was the perfect day for scrubbing bikes and sweeping porches, too. It was still sunny and still fairly hot, but the humidity was gone, there was a nice breeze, and the sky was a lovely shade of robin's egg-blue.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday, steady-to-quiet. It was only busy during the usual after-work rush hour. I headed out myself as soon as my relief arrived (right on time). After a quick stop at FYE to see if they had the newly-retired WebKinz Elephant (nope), I went across the parking lots to Staples and bought two 1GB flash drives and another box of zip discs. I shouldn't need any more than 1 or 2GB. Most of my data is either text or databases and spreadsheets. I have a few photos I've gotten online or that other people have sent me, but nothing huge. If I do need more space, I'll buy a hard drive, but I figure the flash drives should be fine for now. Since I have the zip drive and the drive itself works fine, I'll use it for backup.

I rode over to Wal-Mart after leaving Staples. As usual, they were busy and a jumbled mess, but they had finally restocked the tires my blue bike needs. I also grabbed cards for Father's Day and my cousin Taylere's graduation. (I couldn't find any tarps, though. Maybe I'll see if I can get to a Lowes or a Home Depot.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Heat Rolls On

I finally decided I'd had enough of hiding from the heat. I walked to CVS late this morning to get a small fan to replace the one that died last year. I shouldn't have bought the fan. Not only is it all plastic and rather cheap-y despite the $20 it cost, but it's smaller than even my old fan that died in 2006. I'll buy another big fan at Acme when I can get it home. They didn't have anything larger than a 12-inch at CVS. (I also picked up mouth wash and milk there.)

After I got in, set up the fan, and had burgers and broccoli for lunch, I finally got to washing the trash and recycling cans. I've been trying to do that for weeks now. They all looked disgusting, and the trash can was starting to smell. Every time I wanted to do it, either the weather would be too nasty or I'd just end up being too busy. I filled a bucket with water and soap, unloaded the trash bag and the bottles and cans into their respective outdoor containers (the paper stayed indoors to avoid errant hose spray), and went under the porch to start scrubbing.

I'm glad the hose is under my porch. Between the porch and the trees, it was at least 20 degrees cooler under there. It felt really nice, even in today's 95-degree weather. The hose was fun, too. My sisters and I liked to play under the hose on hot summer days. Usually we'd use it to wash the sand off of us before going inside, but sometimes we'd just play under it, squirting each other and our friends.

I finally got the trash and recycling cannisters as clean as they're going to get (the former doesn't smell anymore) and left them to dry on the porch. I spent the rest of the afternoon making sun-brewed tea, watching the second-season Greatest American Hero set I picked up used at FYE a few weeks ago, and working on editing the role-play.

Work was steady, not nearly as busy as yesterday, with a few obnoxious customers but otherwise no major problems. Worst that happened was we had to take down a bunch of bright-green stickers left by people doing inventory. I rode my bike again, since I was working late and really wanted to avoid the disasters of yesterday. My ride to work was slow, windy, and hot; my ride home was cooler and even windier.

It had been growing darker since about 6PM at work; one customer mentioned a storm coming. Good. As long as it happened after I got home, I welcomed storms. We needed them. Yes, the storm did happen well after I arrived, around 9-10PM.

I'm mega-mad. The zip disc that worked just fine this afternoon when I edited Friday's role-play part refused to work tonight. This marks the second disc I've gone through. I was hoping I wouldn't have to replace the zip drive, which was a Christmas present from my best friend, but it looks like it's necessary. I can't keep losing my work every couple of months. I was lucky Lauren had extras of the parts we did last week. I'm going to go to Staples tomorrow and see if I can get an external hard drive I can save my work on without needing those infernal disks. It'll be costly (anywhere from $100 to $300), but I think I can afford it, between last week's extra Memorial Day money and the economic stimulus check.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hot Hot HOT!

Ugh. The high here today was 99. I spent the morning indoors and in the air conditioning. I dressed the Sailor Soldiers in the retro summer outfits I found at the thrift shop last year and Samantha in her cotton summer sailor outfit, finishing off what little decorating I do for the summer. I walked over to Dad's to see if Rose was there shortly before leaving for work. She wasn't. I finally asked Dad for a ride. I'd gotten away with rides in the heat for two days, but I wasn't going to chance it if the thermometer was close to 100 at 1PM.

Work was surprisingly busy, given the heat. Considering how everyone complained about it, I figured anyone who didn't have to work today would be either beside a pool, in an air conditioned or fan-conditioned house, or hurrying to the shore as fast as their gas tank (and money for gas) allowed. We did have enough help...but I was tired and frustrated over needing a ride at all. It just got worse when I found out I'd read my schedule wrong and was supposed to work until 6:30, not 6 like I told Dad. I tried calling Uncle Ken to tell Dad to come later. Dad must not have gotten the message, because he came in the store at 6:20 asking why I was late.

I felt horrible when my relief arrived and I finally got out. That's why I hate getting rides. Dad says he wants to get me a cell phone, but I don't think that'll help at work. I can't exactly call people for rides in the middle of an order. I don't like people having to rearrange their days for me. It's not fair to them or me.

I wound up eating at Dad's for the second day in a row. Rose and her friend from work Cassie were over at the pool, having been there since 2:30. Dad had just brought over cheese steaks from Philly Phatties next-door to Leo's Yum Yum on West Clinton Avenue when I arrived. After dinner, I went for a wonderful, relaxing swim while the girls, Dad, Uncle Ken, and Jodie discussed adoption issues and Jodie's convoluted family history. After the girls left and I got out of the pool, I talked to Jodie, who offered to send me the name of her favorite local eye doctor and recommend a gynecologist for me, too. (No Mom, I still haven't gone to a gynecologist. Rose was going to go with me, but it never happened.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Family That Beats The Heat Together...

I slept late and had to work at noon, so I just hung out this morning and listened to the WOGL Sunday Beatles show. (Songs from the Beatles' movies were the theme today.) I also made my usual Sunday call to Mom. I caught her just as she came out of the shower. She and Keefe had apparently spent most of the week doing house work. Anny and Skylar were coming over briefly, so we couldn't talk long, but she did tell me Rose hadn't come over last week because she was sick. Again. Rose is ALWAYS sick, probably because of the constant stress she's under, between going to Rutgers Law School, working at a popular local Italian restaurant, and helping to care of (and paying for) two frisky dogs and a cat.

I debated calling for a ride, but finally decided to face the heat. Actually, my ride to work wasn't bad. I left early, rode slowly, and had the wind at my face. I wasn't even sweating hard when I arrived at the Acme. Thank goodness after yesterday, work was busy when I came in, steady when I left, with no major problems. We had so much help for once, I did a full cart of item returns for an hour. (I like doing returns. It's a lot easier to help one or two people find items than a thousand, and it helps to clear my head.)

I saw Jodie, my dad's girlfriend, during work. She said she and Dad were having a barbecue and I was invited to come over after work. No problem there! I got out on time, went straight home, changed, and walked right over to Dad and Uncle Ken's. (Thank goodness there was no train blocking the tracks this time.)

I had a fun time in the pool, swimming with the grandchildren of Uncle Ken's girlfriend Dolores and my stepsister Jessa. The older kids chased each other, played "Shark," and played volleyball with a huge beach ball. The little kids practiced their swimming and breathing underwater and played with the noodles and flotation devices scattered around the pool.

Much to my surprise, Rose arrived around the same time dinner was ready. I chatted with her, Dad, Jessa, and Jodie as we ate burgers, hot dogs, baked beans, salad, and steamed broccoli and asparagus. Rose did say she was sick, but had finally felt better that day. She invited Dad, Jodie, Jessa, and me to eat at the restaurant where she works and suggested Thursday, which happens to be my day off. I also got two more invitations to my cousin Taylere's graduation party on Saturday afternoon (another day off) and to Jodie's son Jesse's graduation party on July 12th.

Rose complimented me on how much weight I've lost. I asked her about losing weight, and she said it ended up falling by the wayside during classes, but she's trying to get back to it again. She dropped Weight Watchers, too. Apparently there were too many rules and regulations for her. She says she's hoping to be able to do Yogawood with me in the fall, when she comes back from a school-related trip to Costa Rica. (She's always wanted to travel outside of the country.)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hot Fun In The Summertime

To heck with what the calender says. The high here today was 94. Mother Nature says it's summer.

The day did not begin auspiciously. I spilled melted butter in my attempt to make my own crepes. Thankfully, it didn't get all over me, just the floor, but it made such a mess that I ended up not having time for crepes after all. I just had Kashi Autumn Shredded Wheat Cereal.

Thankfully, my Saturday errands went much better. It was in the upper 70s when I headed out to the bank and the farm market. The farm market was, not surprisingly, quite busy. I picked up strawberries, celery, leeks, and spinach, and what tasted like a loaf of soft white bread with flecks of bacon.

I got out early enough that I had some time to say "hi" to Erica at the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop and check out some yard sales before the weather became to prohibitive for riding. Unlike last week, the yard sales had some really nifty stuff. I especially loved the one on West Oakland Avenue with all the antique dolls and radios. Those were beyond my budget (and carrying capacity on the bike), but I did pick up a copy of The Art of Walt Disney and an adorable mohair teddy bear from 1962 (according to his tag). A yard sale on Washington Street behind the Oaklyn Public School yielded a DVD copy of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I've been wanting to pick that up for years now, and I know darn well I would have never gotten it in the stores for $3.

By the time I took in one last yard sale on Ridgeway Avenue (and found nothing of interest), it was getting deadly hot. I headed straight home after that and spent the remaining two hours before work reading a book on Russ Colombo and Bing Crosby, You Call It Madness, in my air conditioned living room.

Work mostly went well, but was bookended by two obnoxious old lady customers. The first one wanted almost every item in it's own bag and kept telling me that fifty thousand times. For crying out loud, I heard her the first time! You don't have to constantly repeat orders when I'm right in front of you and not an idiot. I know she wanted everything light.

And the last woman was that annoying lady with the frizzy hair whom everyone in the store hates. She's nothing but trouble. She'll bawl for help from the baggers when she claims she can't lift anything, then give the baggers hell for not bagging every single item exactly the way she wanted it...and THEN bag everything herself, the way they had it in the first place! And because she rides buses and taxis, she has to put her huge containers of toilet paper and paper towel rolls in her own trash bags! (I don't remember doing that when I was in college and used the buses to do my grocery shopping.) The baggers walked away after ten minutes of constant abuse, and I was ready to smack her silly. Thank goodness she was my last customer.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm Flying

Spent the morning doing laundry and reading one of the books I picked up at Russkoff's (I don't know why I kept calling them "Ralstoff's") Used Books and Records, The Takers: River of Gold. Like my 80s Nora Roberts book Hot Ice, it's an action/romance tale that's very much of it's era. Unlike Hot Ice, the sympathy is definitely with the adventurers and the Rambos, not the wealthy.

I went for a walk after I put the laundry in the drier. I thought of going for a swim, but there was a good, stiff, cool breeze and it was still a little chilly in the morning. Not to mention, I didn't want to show up at work with wet hair. (I don't own a hair drier. I don't see the point. It just makes my hair bigger than it already is.) Even as I hiked around the neighborhood, the clouds had begun to break up. By the time I made it back to Uncle Ken's and was taking my clothes the long way around to Manor Avenue (a train was blocking my usual route over the tracks), it was mostly sunny and much warmer, though the breeze remained cool.

My fairly large laundry load took so long, I only had 20 minutes to throw on a just-cleaned uniform, get dinner together, grab my backpack and a cloth bag for after-work grocery shopping, and get out the door. I raced down Kendall Boulevard and the Black Horse Pike. As it turned out, the fast ride was exhilarating but not necessary. I made it to work with almost 10 minutes to spare, plenty of time to park my bike, grab my tag and apron, and even get my paycheck.

After all that, work was steady to busy, with no problems other than my relief was late. Thank goodness the sweet produce stocker, Angel, came in for me.

The ride home was great, too, if a bit muggier. I turned on the air conditioning when I got in. The apartment was really too warm. Lauren and I did work on the next part of our story tonight. Alas, we won't get in part 5 until Tuesday. She's still trying to do her own unpacking and help her parents set up their new home, too.

Oh, and meet Creamsickle, the Lil'Kinz Orange and White Cat! I owe Lauren for coming up with her name. I had no idea what to call her. She came with her cute Milk Carton Fridge, a Magic Carpet, and a $1,000 Kinzcash Coin. Creamie will live in the Cat Palace room with Cassie the Himalayan Cat, who'll take care of her. The money she came with and the KinzCash coin helped buy more tables and chairs to finish off the KinzBee's Sports Bar and Grill.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

All Around The Town

I began my only day off this week with a trip to Collingswood to drop a few too-big items of clothing at the thrift shop and do today's counseling session. We mostly talked about my inability to focus. I tend to think about the future and the past, but it's hard for me to concentrate on a present that often doesn't seem worth concentrating on. We also discussed my tendency to get upset when things go wrong, especially at work. I don't like it when I can't control what's going on. I know that's not always possible, but it gets so busy, and there's all those people there, and I start to feel bad, though most customers are usually pretty good about it. I also admitted I haven't had the time to get to Yogawood, but I will try again before the next session.

I had a Turkey BLT and a fresh lemonade at The TreeHouse Cafe a few blocks down from Genesis Counseling. I won't be eating there much longer when I'm in Collingswood. Like the Abbie Road used CD store, they're moving to Market Street in Audubon.

After lunch, I decided to try something a little different before going to the library for volunteering. I seemed to remember seeing a Waldengreens at the corner of Cuthbert Road and Haddon Avenue in Westmont. I normally don't bother with Waldengreens, yet another generic drug store like Rite Aid or CVS, but they're teaming up with Ganz, the makers of WebKinz, for a special charity promotion. The WebKinz sold at Waldengreens in the month of June come with a special code in addition to the usual one. That code will net you special prizes and access to a game at the code shop. The Cuthbert Road Waldengreens only had three kinds of WebKinz, and they were all Lil'Kinz. However, one of the Lil'Kinz they had was the Orange and White Cat. This was the first I'd seen one, and their larger cousins are long retired. I also picked up a Lil'Kinz Cocker Spaniel.

I made another great find at Waldengreens. I discovered a box full of plush Care Bear Cousins while poking around in the toys aisle. Care Bear Cousins are basically the same thing as Care Bears...just with every animal besides bears. The Cousins weren't revived when the new Care Bears show started last year and are now rather rare. I found all of the stuffed versions but Proud Heart Cat (ironically the one I already had). I wanted all of them, but because I was buying WebKinz too, I settled on Brave Heart Lion and Gentle Heart Lamb. The fact that all four turned out to be $5.99 each just sweetened the deal.

I rode further down Haddon Avenue into downtown Westmont. I wasn't there too long because I wanted to get to the library, but I did have the chance to explore a little bit. Westmont is something of a low-rent version of Collingswood. It's still clean, but the buildings are mostly 60s and 70s vintage with the occasional older storefronts in the mix and the remains of the poor Westmont Theater. (Haddon Township is apparently in the midst of figuring out what to do with the "Grand Old Lady." I hope they decide soon. It reminded me of the Shore Theater, a similar old movie palace in Wildwood that was left to fall to pieces and finally met its fate under the wrecking ball a few months before I moved.) I stopped briefly at a mom-and-pop video store, mostly because I hadn't seen one since the last time I visited my folks in North Cape May.

I headed down Crystal Lake Road, passing Westmont's PATCO station (at least I know where that is now) and down to the library. I did the children's DVDs again. The librarians really seem to like the job I do with those. One said she was able to keep the DVDs straight for three days, before bad weather and a busy weekend left them jumbled again. The kids were long out of school by the time I got there, but the sun was also out and I didn't have too many interruptions. I made a quick stop at Super Fresh for tea (I got Twinings Indian Spiced Chai, which was on sale) and Dollar Tree for a shower curtain (I didn't get that - all they had was blue and tan, neither of which would go well in my yellow and sage green bathroom), before heading home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon vacuuming, dusting, and putting up most of the summer decorations (I'll dress the Sailor Moon dolls and Samantha in their summer outfits tomorrow or Saturday). That should finish off the cleaning for this month. I'll wash the trash can and the recycling cannisters next week. I ran out of time today and this weekend is supposed to be too hot to do much of anything. (Yahoo!Weather actually has an "Excessive Heat Watch" for the Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey area from now until Monday. Just wonderful.)

Oh, and meet Peter the Lil'Kinz Cocker Spaniel! Yes, he's my third WebKinz Monkee, named for Peter Tork. He came with his Bone Fridge and (rather appropriately) a Green Lava Lamp. As pet #40, he also came with a Super Bed Box; I chose a Big Top Bed for this month's Pet of the Month the WebKinz Elephant. The money Peter came with allowed me to set up my second "front yard," this one an entrance to King the Black Frisian's movie theater/loft room. I used the new Strawberry Glass-Topped Tables and older chairs for outdoor popcorn dining. The Lil'Kinz can play on the Cat and Dog Playgrounds and tubes (the cat stuff taken from the about-to-be-retired Cat Theme) before the movie.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

In My Sweet Little Swamp

Ugh. Today was cool but humid, muggy, damp, and sticky. I didn't get a lot done, either. I woke up late, and by the time I ate breakfast and went for a walk, it was too late to do any cleaning and too wet to wash the trash can and recycling cannisters. I did finally edit the first part of our next Monkees story and make my bed.

I also dropped by Dad and Uncle Ken's during my walk and found out that Rose never brought anything for me over their house, or even appeared at all. I'm going to have to call her sometime this weekend. She can be awfully disorganized for someone who's studying to be a lawyer sometimes.

Thankfully, the rain held off long enough for me to get to work. Work was on-and-off busy for most of the day, with no problems. I actually picked up a 2-7 shift on Saturday (and told Janice I'd stay until 8 if she needed me to). I don't mind giving up my Saturday off. I'll still be able to get to the Farm Market and bank and do yard sales, I really do need the hours, and if Yahoo!Weather and the rumors at work are any indication, it'll be too hot for me to do much of anything else that day anyway.

It did finally rain while I was at work, which effectively cleared out work. By the time I picked up bananas and Kashi Autumn Wheat Organic Shredded Wheat Cereal, work was dead. The rain had stopped again on my way home, but the clouds were thick enough that it looked like it was merely and interlude. Still, I was able to pump my mountain bike's tires (I've been meaning to for ages), dump the water out of my recycling can, and take out the trash long before the next storm began.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Clean-Up Time

Began my usual monthly apartment-cleaning. I did the bathroom and the kitchen this morning, then washed the windows and swept the porch. I'll wash the trash can and recycling cannisters tomorrow (the trash is going out anyway) and vacuum and dust Thursday afternoon after I do this week's library volunteering. Rose called as I was working on the kitchen and asked if I was going to be around, since she wanted to bring over my (very late) birthday present and some records. I said yes, but I was going to go for a walk a bit later, since it was such a nice day. She said she'd would be out running errands and would leave everything at Dad and Uncle Ken's.

I did take my walk after I finished with the windows. It was a lovely day, with a wind that kept it from getting too hot. (This won't last; apparently, starting on Thursday after the next round of storms pass, it's supposed to get into the lower 90s. Great. I have counseling on Thursday and was hoping to go into Philadelphia after the Farm Market on Saturday.)

Work wasn't much of a problem, either. Steady, no call-outs. There were a few annoying beginning-of-the-month customers, nothing unusual.

Monday, June 02, 2008

She Works Hard For the Money

And that's pretty much all I did today. I was asked to come in and work 10:30AM to 7PM today instead of 2:30PM to 7PM. One of the older cashiers who works in the morning was having a tree taken down in his yard, and he needed to be at home to make sure it was done properly. That was fine with me. I didn't have a lot of hours this week to begin with, and all I had planned for today, tomorrow, and Wednesday other than work was my usual monthly house cleaning.

Work was on-and-off busy, not surprising for the beginning of the month. There were a few annoying customers. One woman fussed over the grapes she bought. She asked if she could take out some after I'd already rung them up, then tried to just throw the money at me and leave when I had a hard time taking the grapes off. I finally did get her to stay and pay properly, but only after I took the grapes off as a coupon, which we're really not supposed to do.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

June Is Bustin' Out All Over

The first day of June dawned sunny, bright, and warm. I slept in and spent most of the morning working on a Cold Beet and Yogurt Soup recipe from French Women Don't Get Fat while listening to the WOGL "Brunch With the Beatles" show. (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, one of my favorite Beatles albums, was in the spotlight today.)

Work was busy, not a surprise in the beginning of the month and a month in which many people will be getting late tax return and economic stimulus checks. There were a few annoying customers but no call-outs today. However, shortly after arriving home, Jill called and asked me if I wanted to work 10:30 to 7 instead of 2:30 to 7. Sure, why not? The only thing I had planned for early in the week was cleaning, and I could start that on Tuesday. I could use the hours, too.

After I had leftover cheese-stuffed chicken and Cold Beet and Yogurt Soup for dinner, I decided to enjoy the lovely evening and treat myself to a walk and some Only 8 Frozen Yogurt from Leo's Yum Yum around the corner. Apparently, half of Oaklyn had the same idea. There was a long line when I arrived, and it took me more than five minutes to get my vanilla frozen yogurt cone.

I took a walk down Manor Avenue and up to the White Horse Pike as I ate my cone. It was a gorgeous night, warm enough to be out in a t-shirt and shorts, but cool enough that my cone didn't melt before I finished it. Manor Avenue smelled like damp earth, roses, clover, and honeysuckles. Gardens were in full bloom; people sat on their stoops or porches, chatted with their neighbors and families, and enjoyed the lovely evening.

I called Mom after I got in. I'd called her earlier, but she was busy and called me back while I was on my walk. She, Daddy, and Keefe apparently spent most of the week taking advantage of the weather and working on their yard and real wooden deck. (They had a brick patio in North Cape May that tended to get covered with eroded mud from their mostly-dirt yard.) She sounded tired and very, very happy. I talked to Daddy briefly this morning. He doesn't want anything for Father's Day, either, so he'll be getting a card.