Thursday, July 31, 2008

Out With the Family

First of all, happy birthday to my little nephew Skylar, driving his grandmother and mother crazy at age 4.

Work was no problem at all today, something I appreciate after Tuesday. We had no trouble with the customers or with employees, I arrived on time, and my relief was on time. It was a good thing. I couldn't have stayed late today. Dad invited me to go out to dinner with him, Jodie, and Jessa for his birthday.

I went over to Dad's right after work with the pudding pie I made him and my laundry. Dad and Jessa weren't terribly happy with each other; Jessa flunked her driver's license exam and Dad got upset. Jessa wasn't as angry. She knew she hadn't practiced parallel parking enough, and she's not really all that interested in driving or cars. I think Dad (understandably) just wants her to be able to take herself to school and out with her friends.

Jess and I spent the afternoon playing a weird video game console thing some friend or the other gave her. It's a small penguin-shaped console filled with 110 classic video games from the Atari and Nintendo era, from Defender and Pac Man to Super Mario Brothers and the Disney Aladdin. She must have gotten the console from one of her anime-crazy friends. While everything is in English, some of the games are a little different from what we're used to - for instance, the opening titles of Super Mario Brothers has a "2" and Mario's face instead of the familiar title in the big block, and the original Mario Brothers is simply called "Mr. Mary."

For every familiar old favorite we played, we encountered two others we'd never heard of. I don't know what the Japanese were on in the 80s, but some of these games were pretty bizarre. In one game, you had to manipulate what looks like huge tacks in order get stacks of rolling pearls into little conveyor belts. The pearls eventually drop into numbered vents. Beware the vent marked "out" - a crab will come, eat your pearls, and end your game! There was another game involving two penguins you had to manipulate past spiders and spiderwebs to get to a goal...but you had to make sure both penguins made it. In another game, three little white creatures have to shoot at the balloons transporting foxes to their friends with arrows. Strange, strange games, and not nearly as easy as they sound. I couldn't get past the second round on any of them. (Jessa actually did pretty well with the pearl one.)

We had dinner at the Tappan Grill, a bar/restaraunt in Westmont, and a far nicer one than the Oaklyn Manor Pub down the street. We ate on an outdoor bar patio, listening to a local cover band. (Dad kept saying they were pretty bad, but they played good music.) Jodie and Dad had pizza. I had a delicious grilled chicken sandwich on foccacia bread with smoked Gouda, red onion, bacon, and argula. Jess had mini-burgers with cheddar and Italian Wedding Soup.

Dad and Jodie invited me to a Camden Riversharks (local minor league baseball team) game tomorrow night. I don't know if I'm going to go or not. I'm pretty tired; I've had a long month. I was really distracted and spaced out at dinner.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Balancing Act

The dark, cool inside of Yogawood felt so good on a hot, humid, sticky morning. I took the Yin/Vinyasa class I went to two weeks ago. I like this much better. The class was smaller (possibly because of the weather and the middle-of-the-week day), and the yin (long-held poses to open circulation)/vinyasa (basic yoga poses) combination is much easier for my poor balance and coordination than vinyasa alone. I chatted a bit with Jill, the teacher for both classes, after we finished.

I spent most of the rest of the day doing chores and errands. I went to Walgreens to see if they had August's WCares WebKinz out yet. A girl reported that yes, they had the new WebKinz but hadn't put them out yet. She was nice enough to dig a Lil'Kinz Persian Cat out of the box stacked in the back amid cartons of aspirin. I also picked up a bubble envelope to send Lauren the extra copy of Yankee Doodle Dandy I got from for some reason.

I rode down Haddon Avenue to Crystal Lake Drive, then up to Cuthbert Road. I had lunch at the Crystal Lake Diner, which is almost literally under the Haddon Township Library on the hillside. The Crystal Lake Diner is your basic local hash house. The prices aren't as good as the Newton Diner on the White Horse Pike, but the food's good. I had a Western Omlette with real hash browns (not frozen shredded stuff) and whole wheat toast while listening to the (mostly elderly) lunch crowd.

I headed up to the library after lunch for this week's volunteering session. The librarians were all busy and had no assignments for me, so I just did the children's DVDs and helped some kids find the movies they were looking for. I made a quick stop at Super Fresh afterwards to buy ingredients for my birthday present for Dad and at WaWa for a Chocolate-Vanilla Coke Zero from the soda fountain before heading home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom. It's a little early, but I figured, since I finally got to the dusting, I might as well do this, too. Besides, both were starting to look bad. The bathtub was getting scuzzy, and the kitchen sink had a ring from the tub I use for the dishes.

Oh yes, and meet Alice the Lil'Kinz Persian Cat! Named for the little lady from Wonderland (and because I just like that name), Alice is a quiet, thoughtful young would-be writer who lives with Yum Yum the Siamese Cat in the KinzBeach Resort Hotel. Alice is also fond of music and is one of the Webbies' biggest fans; she spends a great deal of time with them, listening to their rehearsals and giving them pointers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Working Girl

Never judge a book by it's cover...or a work day by how busy it is in the first half-hour. It was so dead when I arrived at work around 10AM, one of the cashiers who was supposed to be there all day was allowed to go home because she didn't want to stand around and do nothing. Of course, a half hour later, we get busy and stay on-and-off busy for the rest of the day. Of course, we end up calling in more help because the cashier went home and we had call-outs. I stayed an extra hour until one of the teenage girls arrived.

The moral, ladies and gentlemen? Even if you don't seem to be busy at work, stand around anyway. You never know when things are going to change.

Customers were a pain, too. It's the end of the month, and we have lots of annoying people getting their monthly Social Security checks. As I predicted, we had more complaining about that stupid $4.99 Pepsi coupon, too. For heaven's sake, people, READ THE COUPON. The ads clearly say "$4.99 EACH." Don't just assume that three 24 packs of soda and water are going to be $4.99 all together. That's unrealistic.

I hate my job. I'm never going to get OUT of my job. The economy's so bad, and no one's going to hire someone who hasn't worked anywhere but a grocery store for six years. I'm so out-of-place here. I must be the only single, childless college graduate living alone, without pets or significant others, in the entire South Jersey area. I've never met anyone else who wasn't living with their parents or pets or lovers or wife or husband. No one knows what it's like to be lonely.

I went for a walk to CVS after work. I was originally going to clean, but I didn't really have the time when I finally got in. I dropped by Dad's house really quick on the way back. He gave me some steak and lobster leftover from his birthday dinner last night, and I got to wish him a happy birthday.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Frequent Flyer

First of all, happy birthday to my biological father Bruce! I'll be bringing my birthday present for him over when I do the laundry and go out to dinner with the family on Thursday. Bruce and Jodie called while I was at work and said they were making a special dinner and would be willing to save me some. Alas, I wasn't done until 7:30, too late to go anywhere but the shower.

I spent the morning sleeping in and catching up on paperwork and editing the short stories Lauren and I have written in the past few weeks. We're going to be starting August's main story tomorrow night; look for it in a few weeks!

Work was on-and-off steady, with no major problems, something I'm grateful for after all the rude and obnoxious customers last Monday. We had one pair who threw a fit when they thought the Pepsi 24-packs were $4.99 all together with a coupon instead of $4.99 EACH, but other than that, there were no problems customer-wise. (I have the feeling that coupon is going to give me trouble all week. It DOES say "$4.99 each" on the small text.)

The store was more of a problem than the customers. The front end was a mess when I arrived. They were in the midst of cleaning under the candy and magazine racks in the front of the registers so they could install new ones. They did finally get them in towards the end of my shift, but there was still carts full of 20 oz soda, water, juice, and energy drinks, magazines, and candy and gum when I left.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just a Big Black Rain Cloud

There were heavy clouds gathering over Camden County this morning when I called Mom for our Sunday chat. Mom said it was cloudy in Cape May County, too, and predicted rain. Mom was alone again. Dad was out fishing and Keefe was babysitting. She praised my going to Yogawood and fussed about Anny and Skylar and Anny not disciplining Skylar enough again.

It remained cool but very humid when I went to work at 11. Work wasn't bad, steady with few problems...until around 1:30-2PM. The clouds that had gathered all morning finally reached a dark, heavy critical mass shortly after my break. It was so dark, as Katie, one of the cashiers, pointed out, it looked more like 8PM than 2PM.

That was when it started to rain. And I mean really rain. It rained so hard, you couldn't see the sidewalk, much less the parking lot. There was a long line of people at both entrances waiting for the rain and thunder to subside so they could make a dash to their cars. Needless to say, we weren't busy for the rest of the afternoon.

The storm was down to a soft shower by the time I finished at 3:30. I waited for another five minutes as the storm died down to a drizzle, then headed home. I was thinking of going for a walk, but while the thunder and lighting did finally subside, it rained hard on and off for the rest of the afternoon. I spent the day adding numbers to my cell phone and music to my new MP3 player instead.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Return of the TreeHouse Cafe

Today was the earliest I've worked on a Saturday since the spring. On one hand, this meant I had to forgo my farm market/yard sale trip this week. (Hopefully, I'll be able to pull it off next week.) On the other hand, it meant I got out of work early enough to do some chores and enjoy a lovely, hot-but-not-humid summer afternoon. Work was steady, not too crazy (and no call-outs, surprising after yesterday and given the great weather). There were a few obnoxious customers, including one older man who didn't read the coupon for the $4.99 24 packs of Pepsi sodas and Aquafina water and thought they were $4.99 all together when they were $4.99 each and wasn't too happy about it. Otherwise, everything went fine and my relief was on time.

After I left work, I rode to Merchant Street in Audubon for the re-opening of one of my favorite local coffee shops, the TreeHouse Cafe. It was in Collingswood, but like Abbie Road, moved to Audubon when the rent got too high. The building it currently occupies is somewhat newer and less homey, and I miss the murals and the lovely old fireplace, but it's larger, with more tables, more light, and a much nicer kitchen area. I treated myself to a Chai Tea Latte Freeze (basically, a chai tea Slurpee). It was a little sweet but very tasty.

I spent the rest of the afternoon finally dusting my apartment and sweeping the porch. Both badly needed it. I think the dust was effecting my nose. I've been sneezing and am often stuffed up in the morning. I don't usually put off dusting this long, but I either haven't had the chance to do it or the weather got too nice or I had something else going on.

I had dinner on the porch for the first time in over a month, too, just burgers and a salad. I was attacked by a few flies, but there was a nice wind going and it wasn't nearly as bad as the last time I did it, when every mosquito for a hundred miles decided to use me as open bar night.

Friday, July 25, 2008

In the Summertime

As my only day off this week, today was my official errands day. I went to work to pick up my paycheck and do a fairly large grocery shopping trip (thanks to working too early to make the farm market tomorrow). The customer service line was backed-up when I arrived, and I found out why when Greg, one of the managers, asked Shane, another manager who was off today and behind me in line, if he wanted to come in to work. Apparently, the store already had three or four call-outs, and it was only noon. Everyone decided they'd rather be on vacation on such a gorgeous day than work! I might have come in to help if this wasn't my only day off.

After I finally did my shopping and got out of the Acme, I quickly headed home for lunch and to put everything away, then went back out again. I went to the bank, then for a ride into Audubon. I hadn't been to Act Two Collectibles or Abbie Road in a while, and I wanted to see if the TreeHouse Cafe had re-opened. (They moved to Audubon, across from Abbie Road on Market Street, earlier this month.) I ended up with a Chicago LP from Act Two (their first record, I believe), two used CDs and a nice chat with Bob from Abbie Road, my favorite oversized chocolate chip cookie from Desserts by Design, and the knowledge that the TreeHouse Cafe is opening tomorrow.

I finished up the day at Uncle Ken's for the laundry. Dad and Jodie were the only ones at home initially. I ate Dad's homemade Pork and Shrimp Fried Rice and chatted with them. They suggested I should try getting substitute teacher jobs in the fall. They don't require teaching certificates, just college experience. I'd like to look into being a library aid, too.

My cousin Amber, her fiancee Brian, and his one-year-old daughter Ella came over as we finished our rice. Amber, Ella, and I went swimming together in the wonderfully warm pool (it was at least 85 today). Ella is such a cutie. She loves the water and especially loves jumping into her surrogate mommy's arms!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

By the Beautiful River

After almost a week of killer heat and/or humidity (and previous weeks of more heat), I opened the door this morning to find an 80-degree day. By the time I'd finally made it to breakfast, any remaining humidity and clouds had dissipated, and the sun shown through the trees bending gracefully over my porch.

I spent the morning reading The Stolen Sapphire and Gangsters at the Grand Atlantic and listening to summer/vacation-themed Broadway cast albums. I also got to vacuuming my apartment; I'll dust on my day off tomorrow. I ran the Shirley Booth 1953 vehicle By the Beautiful Sea and Carol Channing's first major hit Gentlemen Prefer Blondes this morning and the 1971 cast album for the famous revival of No, No, Nanette when I got home from work.

I liked Gangsters and Sapphire (which were, interestingly, written by the same author). I enjoyed Gangsters somewhat more for an unusual storyline involving rum-running and what people will do to keep up with the rich (and because I'm more into the 20s than the Victorian era), but Stolen Sapphire has a touch of Indiana Jones mysticism to it's plot about a sapphire disappearing during a cruise and Samantha and Nellie getting involved with the mystery when their French teacher is accused of the crime.

Work was on-and-off steady, not a surprise on a beautiful day. Also not a surprise was a few people calling out or not showing at all. It's a good thing we were dead when I left. My relief still hadn't arrived.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beating the Storms

Spent most of the morning and afternoon at work. It was on-and-off busy, with no really major problems. The weather was ominous all day, not quite as hot as it was over the weekend, but still cloudy and VERY humid. If my still-wet porch was any indication, it rained overnight and had just begun to spit when I went to work around 10:30AM. When I got out at quarter of 4 after picking up yogurt and some other essentials that were only on sale this week, the sun was fighting a battle with the clouds that, as it turned out, it would lose. Just 20 minutes after I got home and changed into a T-shirt and shorts, I heard the first rumble of thunder. The storms have continued on and off for the rest of the night. I was going to go to Uncle Ken's and go swimming, but needless to say, I didn't end up going anywhere. I did some things around the house and took a look at my luggage to see what travel items I'll need when I go to New England in September.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Library Days

Today was far more pleasant than yesterday, beginning with my library volunteering. I did the children's CDs (which badly needed it - they probably hadn't been done since the last time I did them last year) and shelved children's DVDs. I also helped the kids find the DVDs they were looking for. One cute little girl with blond curls wanted Angelina Ballerina. The mother of a little red-headed toddler said "we're a simple family - we like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Sesame Street," so I found two Clifford DVDs for her daughter. A slightly older girl with dark wavy hair asked for Barbie; she chose Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus. Little boys and girls alike asked for Thomas the Tank Engine. It was a hectic and enjoyable morning.

I worked on editing the just-finished Monkee Role-Play in the early afternoon before work. Look for it tonight or sometime tomorrow, along with two adult-oriented short stories.

Work was steady-to-quiet and absolutely no problems whatsoever (I spent the last hour doing returns), which was most welcome after yesterday. I think I agree with two of my customers. Yesterday's rude crowd was probably caused by a combination of the heat wave and the full moon. The latter, incidentally, is supposed to break by tomorrow and be gone by later in the week.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Today did NOT go well. I went to Yogawood this morning for my second class. This class was all Vinyasa, and it did involve some standing on one foot...something I am NOT good at. I keep getting confused about which side to turn to, too - I look at the people on the other side of the room and not at what I'm doing. And I've been hoping to meet people I can talk to, but as usual, everyone knows everyone but me, everyone's been in the area all their lives, everyone has a family or a place to go. Guess who just went straight home after class? It won't stop me from going to a class every week I can make it, but I really wish I could find SOMEONE in this area who is single and living totally alone like me. Maybe I'd feel less like a weird creature.

Work didn't make me feel any better. The computer behaved this time, but the people didn't. EVERYONE seemed to be in a bad mood, culminating in a noisy shouting match between two customers when one stepped back so a man could get the right pack of water and the other and his wife walked right in with ice cream. The wife was so apologetic, but I was about ready to kill the other two and the man whose inability to read signs started the whole thing in the first place. People were rude. People were whiny. People were ignorant. I'm getting SO sick of it. The next person who gives me a hard time over water and ice cream is going to get said items shoved down their gullets.

At least things went well in WebKinz World. A week-long Wacky Zingoz Festival began on Thursday. You can click on the flying Wacky and win a Wacky Zingoz stuffed toy for your pets, and when you play the original (not the Extreme) Wacky Zingoz, if you manage to hit it past the 600 mark, you win a Wacky Zingoz 600 trophy! Not only did I finally win my third Arcade trophy and first Wacky trophy, but I'm up to four Wacky plushies (counting the one I sent to Lauren for her WebKinz). Not to mention I posted my best-ever scores on Triple Strike Solitare, Lilly Padz (which I used to be terrible at), and Hungry Hog (Level 17!).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Girl Power

Work was a farce today. It was four hours and felt much longer. The computers went down for 20 minutes, which resulted in backed-up lines and annoyed people. It took longer to get the credit card/debit card machine up and running. I got lucky. I'd just finished a small order when the computers went down and was waiting for smaller bills to give a customer. Some people lost their computers in the middle of big Sunday orders!

Otherwise, today went very well. I chatted with Mom and Dad this morning. They were on their own - Keefe was babysitting for Anny. Not a whole lot going on over there, other than Mom being annoyed with Anny and Skylar, which is nothing new.

After my lousy day at work, I needed to relax, so I went over to Uncle Ken's and encountered a small party. Apparently Uncle Ken, Dolores, and some of Dolores' adult children are going on a two-week vacation to Malta starting Wednesday and everyone was over to use the pool and say good-bye. I swam with Dolores' grandchildren Blake, Colin, Kristin, and Mercedes, watched Kristin and Mercedes the budding songwriters work on a routine for their "band," and had a "strong woman talk" with Jodie, Kristin, and an upset Mercedes (who had just argued with her brother Colin).

And yes Kristin, it's ok for men to cry. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Off To the Farm Market

Pretty quiet day. It was still hot when I woke up and headed for the Farm Market, but it wasn't quite as bad as yesterday, and there was a lovely breeze. I got to the Farm Market a little later than usual. A few things were gone, but I still picked up tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, wildflower honey, sourdough bread, and fresh carrots. I stopped at two yard sales on the way, but found nothing interesting. I spent the rest of the morning editing this month's Monkees Role Play story (which should be up by next week, BTW).

Work wasn't terribly exciting, either. It was steady when I got in, stone-cold-dead when I left. My relief was late, but it was quiet enough that I was able to leave on time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Crocodile Cutie

Went to the Acme this morning to pick up my paycheck and do a little bit of grocery shopping. I'm glad the store is selling Acme insulated bags. It hit 97 degrees here and was sweltering even as I made my way to the store around quarter of 11. I didn't need much - granola bars, yogurt, olive oil, more (cheap) eye round steak, skim milk. Despite the store being busy, I was out by 11:30 and home by 12.

After I got home and put everything away, I finally decided that yes, I wanted to go to the Deptford Mall. I wanted to hit the end-of-the-summer clothes sales before they were picked over, I needed new cheap sneakers to run errands in, and I wanted to see if the card stores had the new WebKinz yet. (They always get them before the stores around here do.) I invited my stepsister Jessa along for the ride. We hadn't gone out together since the day in March when we went to the Gallery Mall in Philadelphia. I could use the company, and it wouldn't kill her to do something other than sit inside and download music.

We had a lovely afternoon. I showed her the bus to take and the bus route, and she saw the bus just as it pulled up to the station curb. She helped me decide between the WebKinz Crocodile and Toucan (went with the crocodile, BTW), and found some great pants. She ended up with a stuffed Lightning McQueen (from the Disney/Pixar movie Cars) for our cousin CJ, two cards (for Dad and for CJ), and three pairs of patterned socks, two with Lightning McQueen on them. I bought three pairs of pants (denim capris and two bermuda shorts) and a new white t-shirt (my old one is hanging off me) from JcPenny's massive 60-75% off all summer clothes sale, a yellow-orange tank top from Avenue, the WebKinz crocodile and three cards for CJ, Dad, and my nephew Skylar from Carlton Cards, a new pair of cheap sneakers from Payless Shoes, and the last two Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater DVDs I didn't have from KB Toys.

Dad picked us up after we finally got in. I spent the evening chatting and eating mushroom pizza with him, Jodie, Mark, and Vanessa, and getting to talk to Rose before she goes to Costa Rica on Sunday. Rose suggested a hair salon in Haddon Heights that did a great job on her hair; I may look them up next week or when I have the money. She also said she'd be willing to give me some of her old clothes that were now too small for her and would take some of my winter clothes that are too big. (I donated a lot of clothes to the thrift shop, too.)

Oh, and meet Everglades the Crocodile! The goofiest reptile north of Florida, Everglades comes with a "Rockin' Croc Storage" container that can be put in a yard and allows him to be my first WebKinz to live entirely outdoors. He lives in a quiet swamp, surrounded by palm trees, flowers, and crumbling ruins.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hot Day, Cold Pleasures

Today was extremely hot and humid. Weather or no weather, though, I had to go to counseling and to the thrift shop. I dropped my donations and broused around the store. Despite the fact that I didn't have much money, I still managed to score two Banana Republic Large tank tops for a $1.00 each and an unused, cloth-bound journal with a pretty sunflower print for $.75. God, I love thrift shops.

I had a quick lunch of sparkling juice and quesedilas at the GrooveGround Cafe two blocks from Genesis Counseling, then headed down the street for this week's session. Mostly told Scott about my past two weeks, including Mom's frustration with Keefe and Anny, Skylar's seizure, Rose going to Costa Rica, and my weight loss.

It was too hot to do much of anything after I got out of counseling, and really, I was too broke. I went straight home, stopping only at the mailbox to get my bus tickets for New England in September before heading over to Uncle Ken's for this week's laundry and swim session. It was pretty busy over there today. Jodie's father and one of her nieces were in the pool, and Mark's daughter Faith and her fiancee and his toddler daughter came by, too. No wonder. The pool felt great, at least 85 degrees.

After small eye round steaks and a pasta salad for dinner, I decided I felt like ice cream for dessert. I dredged up enough money to head down the block to Leo's Yum-Yms for Only 8 Banana Soft-Serve Yogurt. I'm not a big ice cream fan and I don't often buy ice cream from a grocery store or an ice cream parlor, but the rare times I do bring back a lot of memories. As I walked past kids playing catch in their front yards and couples strolling down the block, I found myself recalling my own childhood.

When my family lived on Maryland Avenue on the northern end of Cape May near the Coast Guard Base in the mid-80s, Mom and Dad would occasionally take us three girls down Texas Avenue to DryDock for a summer treat. DryDock is this big, barn-shaped ice cream parlor on the end of Texas Avenue, next to the WaWa and a few blocks from the C-View Inn. While the view was far from the best in Cape May (Texas Avenue in front, reeds and swamp to the right, WaWa to the left), the prices were reasonable and the portions were amazing. We'd sit at the plastic tables, eating sundaes the size of buckets and gulping massive milkshakes three times bigger than a movie theater soda. Even to this day, no milkshake has ever matched the Colossal DryDock Chocolate Shake. There's a picture of my sisters and I from the time period right after a trip to DryDock. I'm about 8 and Rose is maybe 7, and we're on either side of 2 or 3-year-old Anny, slurping normal-sized milkshakes. Anny is in the middle, trying to take gulps of Dad's chocolate shake, which is easily as big as our shakes put together both up and around.

(As far as I know, DryDock is still on Texas Avenue in Cape May next to the WaWa, though I haven't been to that part of Cape May in ages. No word on whether or not they still have those massive shakes, though. And incidentally, I ended up with a far smaller Banana Soft-Serve Frozen Yogurt cup. A 95-degree-day is no time for cones.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seeking Balance

I finally took a yoga class today, like I've been telling my counselor I would for the past two months or so. I ended up enjoying it. It was a Yin/Vinyasa class, meaning a combination of long-held seating poses that are supposed to work on your joints and standing poses that work on flexibility, balance, and coordination...all of which I desperately need to work on. I also need to work on focusing, something I've discussed with Scott. It's hard to filter out all the things that go on in my mind and concentrate on the present time. I got the moves the wrong way twice because my mind was elsewhere and not on what it was supposed to be doing. Jill, my instructor, was very sweet and helpful, though, and I wasn't the only person who was new to the class (though I was the only person who got confused about which way to turn).

I went for a short walk in Collingswood after the class. I dropped into the thrift shop to say "hi" to Erica and checked the Collingswood Variety Store to see if they have any of the new WebKinz. (Nope.) The rest of the day was comparatively quiet. I worked on editing the Monkees Role Play for the rest of the morning after getting back from Collingswood. Work was so quiet, I spent the second half of my two-hour-shift returning items.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

At the Library

Did my library volunteering this morning. It was very, very busy when I came in! Apparently, their children's story-time had just finished. Kids were rushing to the books and DVDs even as I finished organizing the dozens that just came in. I enjoyed helping them find DVDs, even as I organized them. After I finished and the library cleared out a little, I put the piles of adult DVDs sitting on the shelves away. I wasn't able to organize them as well as I would have liked, since I wanted to take books out, too, and I had to work at 3PM.

I wandered around for a while, but I finally ended up with two children's mysteries, an adult historical mystery novel, three CDs, Fodor's 2008 New England travel guide, and a Disney Vacation Parade comic book collection.

Sticking with the vacation/travel theme, both of the children's mysteries involve girls in the early part of the 20th century on vacations that turn dangerous. The Stolen Sapphire concerns my second favorite American Girl after Kit, late-Victorian-era Samantha. A fabulous sapphire is stolen on the same cruise ship Samantha and her family are traveling to Europe on. Samantha and her adopted sister Nellie are determined to find the real thief and save a friend from arrest.

Gangsters at the Grand Atlantic is literally set closer to home. Emily, a young girl from Philadelphia in 1925, is on vacation at a fashionable Jersey Shore resort with her flapper sister and her friend and friend's family. Things get ugly when Emily sees two men who look like the thugs who terrorized the old man who runs the grocery store under her family's apartment and worries that she may be their next victim.

I'm a big fan of Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalyrumple series, an adult mystery series set in England during the Roaring 20s. I was delighted to find the newest book, The Bloody Tower, at the library. Daisy discovers murder most foul at the Tower of London and survives a night away from her new twin babies.

I got in with enough time left to eat lunch, get dinner together, change into my uniform, and get to work. No major problems tonight, which is a good thing. This is the latest I've worked in at least two months, and I'm tired. I saw new cashiers in training during the middle of my shift, which is good news - bad news time. The good news - they were all teenagers and young adults who will likely end up with the late hours, which hopefully means more early hours for me. The bad news - that means fewer hours for everyone else until the kids go back to school.

The ride home from work was almost worth the late shift. I got to witness the tail end of a gorgeous gold and pink sunset as I rode in a nice breeze down the Black Horse Pike. I can't see the sunset from my apartment in the summer, thanks to the thick grove of trees blocking my view, and I usually work too late in the winter to catch it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No Reply

Just a quick note. I'm tired. I've had a long day. I woke up at 8AM and got a phone call from Donna, one of our head front end managers, twenty minutes later. Could I come in at 10AM? Someone in the back called out, and they had to send one of the cashiers to help them. I finally said 10:30. I needed to be able to eat breakfast and get lunch and a snack together. Work was on-and-off busy, nothing abnormal for a Monday in the middle of the summer months, to be honest. My relief was late and I was ready to brain him, but other than that, there were no major problems.

If nothing else, I did get a chance to confirm my vacation time with Donna this morning after I came in. I'll be in Pittsfield, Massachusetts visiting my best friend Lauren from September 6th to September 14th. We normally do it in mid-July (around now), but Lauren and her parents moved from North Adams to Pittsfield in May and she's still unpacking the mountains of stuff she has. (Unlike me, she didn't end up with two weeks off due to a messed-up transfer. In fact, one of the reasons they moved was to be closer to her work as a manager at a Pittsfield bank. She's been squeezing unpacking between work, chatting with me, going out with her folks, and her brother's visit from Texas with his family in mid-June.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Long, Hot Summer

The weather remains hot, upper-80s, but not humid, which is fine. As much as it may annoy people, this isn't really unusual for mid-July in southern New Jersey. There was a really nice breeze this evening that I hope lasts.

I called Mom this morning while the Beatles show was on. She was on her own again. Dad was fishing and Keefe was with Anny, Skylar, and Anny's boyfriend Mike. She's not terribly happy with Keefe or my sister and her boyfriend right now. She found out Keefe has started smoking, and she suspects Anny and Mike, both of whom smoke, may have influenced him. Anny has never been the best influence on the kid in any case. Apparently, she didn't learn anything from her potassium-intake scare a few months back and still insists on a diet of McDonald's and Starbucks. I understand that as a single mother and manager at Big Lots she doesn't have a lot of money, but...come on. McDonald's food is terrible and even worse for you. Starbucks is fine eaten once every couple of months in Philly, but not everyday. There are equally cheap options that are better for you.

Mom had more praise for my weight loss. She reminded me that I lose fat in certain places first. (The darn stomach will be among the last to go.) In some cases, this is no problem. I love my legs, which are firm and muscular from all my riding and walking. I'm glad to be able to SEE my neck. I'm hoping Mom's right and I'll lose enough in my chest to balance out my small shoulders. She suggested checking out good sales at Wal-Mart or Target for inexpensive gold earrings and bracelets. I can't get away with silver like she can, and unlike Rose, she realizes this. My ears are very sensitive. I've tried twice to wear cheap earrings, once in the late 80s when long earrings were in style, and again in high school. Both times, I ended up with pussy, scabby, sore ears, and the jewelry in question ended up in thrift shops, the trash, or on my Christmas tree. (I'm less fond of her suggestion I buy a pair of flat shoes in every color. I don't NEED them in every color. I'm not that big of a fan of shoes.)

Work was steady-to-busy today, with no major problems other than my relief was late. The guys who was my relief is always late, though, and the managers realized this and let me go on time.

I went for a walk to CVS after I got in. I stopped at Dad and Uncle Ken's really quick to say "hi" and see how the party last night went after I left. They were in the midst of another party when I arrived, only this time, the pool was filled with kids, kids, and more kids. Seems one of Dolores' granddaughters had her birthday party in the pool area. Even Brittany and Jessa joined in this time. Dad, Uncle Ken, and Jodie had vacated the area, though, so I chatted a little with Vanessa and Mark and moved on.

I had a nice walk to and from CVS. I needed night light bulbs (I've forgotten to get them for over a week), and I saw eggs were $1.89 there and grabbed a carton. I feel sorry for the poor girl at the register. Her printer ate my receipt both times I was there. That usually happens at the Acme after someone leans hard on the printer, but I didn't see anyone touch hers, and she said she'd just replaced the roll. I hope she moved to another register or got someone to fix that.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rock and Roll Party Queen

Got up early this morning in order to hit the Farm Market early. I would have skipped it all together this week if I wasn't in desperate need of filling the vegetable drawer in my fridge. The spinach and the cherries are gone, but I was able to pick up peaches, mushrooms, leeks, celery, garlic, blueberries, tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, an odd-looking fat, round eggplant, and something called sugar plums - tiny, round plums - to replace the cherries.

There were only two yard sales today, but I did find something interesting. I picked up a vintage 80s cassette player at a house down the street as a temporary replacement for the Victrola tape player, which died last week. I really need a new stereo, period, or at least a new tape/CD player. (The record player Lauren and I bought last summer works fine.) I'd like to find another retro/old-fashioned-style console, but at this point, anything that works decently and will for a few years would be nice. I was hoping to set it up where the radio/tape player is now in the kitchen, but the plug was jammed between the wood partitions that separate the kitchen and the entertainment room and I couldn't get it out. The new (old) tape player ended up on top of the Victrola instead.

After my long morning, work was no problem at all. I had a hot, sweaty ride, but we were really just steady, not nearly as busy as we usual are on weekends (or as we were last week). Most people are probably either at the Shore or in someone else's pool.

Speaking of someone else's pool, that's where I went after work. Jodie was holding her youngest son's high school graduation party at Dad's house. I changed into my bathing suit and new peach skirt and white shoes and went over with my Chocolate Mint Chip Cream Pie. Most of the guests were Jodie's family, and I didn't know them well. I spent most of the time I was at the party either eating, swimming in the pool with the little kids, or watching Jessa, Brittany, and a bunch of the grade-school-age boys play Jessa's new copy of Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I said "hi" to Erica and her mom, too, making up for not being able to visit Erica at the shop this morning. (The thrift shop opens at 10. I was long out of Collingswood by then.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Madness

Hot, hot, hot today! It wasn't even humid. It was just hot. We're into the Dog Days of Summer now, and it sure feels like it. I spent most of my only day off this week shopping. I picked up my paycheck first, then rode over to Wal-Mart. I was hoping to find a new bathing suit to replace the green one I bought last summer that's now three sizes too big for me. It would seem that so's every woman customer at Wal-Mart. I didn't see any bathing suits left that even close to fit. They were all big plus sizes. Fashion Bug had the same problem. I guess I missed all the size 14-16s.

I did end up with a very cute sun dress, a white embroidered shirt to go with my new peach ruffled skirt, and a pair of dark-blue shorts to replace a pair of dark-blue shorts I have now that are way too big. The sun dress came from Wal-Mart. It's red and white polka-dots with blue trim. I still don't like the high waists that are currently in style, but it seems to be impossible to find a dress without one. At least the gathers at the chest aren't too obvious. The polka-dot dress replaces a peach dress with small purple flowers and a lace collar that looked like something an old lady would wear and is now 4 sizes too big for me. I also picked up a pair of good white summer shoes from Fashion Bug to go with my sun dress and the peach skirt. They, too, are a little more cutesy than I'd prefer, white slip-ons with bows on the sides, but it's hard to find summer shoes without some silly-looking trim. Maybe I could somehow get the ribbons off.

I had a slice of vegetable pizza and a bottle of water at Tu Se Bella's, then went back over to the Acme to buy this week's groceries. I grabbed yogurt (the Acme now has Light Banana Cream Pie...and their Light Cappuccino and Pina Colada flavors are back), small steaks that were on sale, single packs of salmon and flounder, spaghetti sauce, and items to make a pudding pie for Jodie's party tomorrow evening.

I put the pie together when I got home, after I finally got everything put away. That Banana Cream Pie went over so well at my cousin Taylere's graduation party last month (and was so easy to make), I decided to make a similar pie for Jodie's party. The Acme had the big boxes of Jello's new Chip flavored puddings - chocolate or vanilla pudding with mini flavored chips or cookies mixed in. I made a Chocolate Mint Chip Cream Pie with the Jello Chocolate Mint Chip pudding, a chocolate graham cracker crust, and the last $1.00 container of Acme whipped topping on the shelf.

I had originally planned on finishing the cleaning today, but I was so tired between my long work week and my shopping, it never happened. After I put together my bills, a rebate, and the form for the insurance and got those in the mail, I walked over to the bank. It was a half-hour before closing, and the bank was very busy. It was really too hot for a long walk, so I was straight to the bank and just made a quick stop at 7-11 on the way home for a Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla soda and a nifty soft pretzel sprinkled with bits of garlic and poppy seeds in addition to salt.

The rest of the afternoon was spent inside, watching the bonus material on Yankee Doodle Dandy. I started another bio-musical, 'Til The Clouds Roll By, while making a delicious dinner of Quick Chicken Cacciatore (from a low-fat cookbook I bought at the thrift shop last year), spinach and cucumber salad, and a slice of fresh farm market sourdough bread.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy..."

Work was a pain in the rear today. We had a lot of annoying customers for a day that was generally on-and-off steady. One woman fussed about how her bags were filled, because she has to climb up steps to her apartment. (Um, so do I. I don't fuss about it. Just take one bag at a time.) I was so happy to get right to my break after being done with her!

I was so fed up when I rode home today. I'm tired of these annoying, obnoxious, ignorant people. What is WRONG with these folks? Organize your bags later if you don't like how we helped you, but don't fuss and whine and hold up the line! I needed the swim at Uncle Ken's. I went over there and did my laundry and swam. The water felt great, warmer than last week (if not quite as warm as in late June), and my swim was fantastic.

Lauren sent me a special treat from, which arrived today - the classic 1942 bio-musical Yankee Doodle Dandy, on the life of popular early 20th century composer/performer George M. Cohan. James Cagney won a much-deserved Oscar for his bravura performance as the energetic writer of such classic all-American tunes as "Over There," "Give My Regards to Broadway," "Mary's A Grand Old Name," "Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway," "You're A Grand Old Flag," and the title song. I have fond memories of watching this with my family every 4th of July during my childhood. My mom and stepdad probably still have their colorized video. I've been wanting the 2-disc DVD set for years, but I've seen it go for as much as thirty dollars, even online. It's totally worth whatever Lauren paid for it - in addition to the movie, we have a "making of" documentary, a Michael J Fox-narrated documentary on Cagney, a radio version with outtakes, commentary, an interview with John Travolta on his friendship with Cagney in his later years, a newsreel, three classic World War II-era Looney Tunes shorts, and two propaganda short subjects. About as thorough as a movie set can get, and totally cool.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

One Stormy Night

Thank goodness after yesterday, work was steady-to-dead with no major problems. My relief was even on time. Jill tried to call me in at 7AM on Saturday, but I turned her down. I did get pretty good hours this week, and I wanted to go to the Farm Market that morning. Besides, this early work is tiring me out. I'd really rather work early, but I'm just not used to it. I've been working mainly in the afternoon and late evenings for months now.

This time, I came home well ahead of the storm. I didn't hear thunder until I'd started to make dinner around quarter after 6; it didn't rain until I'd sat down with my leftover chicken drumstick, slice of fresh sourdough bread, and New Jersey vegetable salad. I spent most of the afternoon cleaning the windows and dusting the windowsils and reading.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Angry Young Woman

Long, relatively boring morning at work. Relatively early, too. I began at 8:30AM and I didn't sleep that great last night. 8:30AM beats 8:30PM anytime...but I'm just not used to working early. I wish I was. Maybe I'd be able to handle it better when old men throw fits because the two bags of Bisquick flavored mixes don't turn up exactly the price they want. I don't give a care how long he's been shopping at the store, and I wish people would stop using that as an excuse just to get what they want. Prices are prices, no matter how long you've been shopping at a store. I left work pissed as hell and in tears. I'm just so sick of people's hissy fits.

I rode home, changed, and went back out again. One of the definite advantages of early work is getting off early, and I decided to cheer myself up with some library volunteering. I did the children's DVDs and started the regular CDs. Both were in lousy condition. The CDs probably hadn't been done since the last time I did them almost a year ago. I came home with three CDs - Mandy Patkin's wonderful solo album of Stephan Sondheim songs, the Beatles' third album Beatles for Sale, and the original cast album of the Broadway show Movin' Out, a dance program based around the music of one of my long-time favorite singers, Billy Joel. I stopped at Super Fresh on the way home. I picked up whipped topping and rye flour but forgot the reason I was there - milk.

I just downloaded iTunes 7. I don't download music. I'd rather take what I want off CDs for travel. Downloading music just uses up space on my computer that could be used by other writing programs, for instance.

Monday, July 07, 2008

"That Demmed Elusive Pimpernel..."

Spent most of today at work, which, like yesterday, was steady-to-dead with no major problems besides a few obnoxious people. One Camden couple kept fussing over prices, complained about the frozen chicken not being on sale (well, if you'd read the SIGN), and then left four 12-packs of soda leaning against the register. The two customers after them almost tripped over the damn things! If you don't want a large item, either put it on an empty register, or if there are no empty registers around you, hand it to your cashier and they'll put it away later. Don't just leave items any old place, especially very large items. Have some consideration for the people behind you.

I started El Dorado: The Further Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel this morning. I hope it's better than The Elusive Pimpernel. Elusive was ok, but it lacked action and took forever to get anywhere, plus there was no rescuing until the very end. I frankly liked the first one better myself. El Dorado at least should fill the action and rescue quota. Apparently, Percy and his boys intend to grab the imprisoned Prince of France from under Chauvelin's nose.

The weather remains humid and on and off stormy. It spit a little while I rode to work, but not enough for me to get very wet. Some of the baggers mentioned rain showers starting and stopping suddenly while they were returning carts to the front of the building, and I rode home in the tail end of a short shower. I went for a quick walk to WaWa's for turkey lunchmeat; I was originally going to go to Doria's Deli around the corner, but they were closed today. I was hungry, so I picked up a bagel and made a Raspberry Light Lemonade at the soda fountain. Once again, I just made it in before the next round of showers.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sweet Summer Showers

I felt a few drops on my nose as I rode to work this morning, but it didn't get worse and I arrived dry. I called Mom this morning while listening to the WOGL "Brunch With the Beatles" show. (Ringo Starr, whose birthday is tomorrow, was in the spotlight). She says that the Southern New Jersey Shore has been having heavy rain showers off and on all weekend, including on the Fourth of July. She spent most of the weekend with her son and grandson and was just resting when I called.

Work was steady, not nearly as busy as the last few days or as it usually is on a Sunday afternoon. I guess everyone did their shopping earlier in the weekend or were at the Shore. Mom said, despite the gas crisis and the bad weather, the Shore was mega-crazy and the roads were all jammed. I spent an hour and a half after my break doing returns, which doesn't happen unless it's quiet and we have a lot of help.

I felt a big raindrop on my forehead as I left the Acme. There were huge, dark clouds on the horizon. I got home just in time. Less than ten minutes after I grabbed my now-dry towel and went inside, it started to pour. It's poured on and off for the rest of the night. I was going to go for a walk, but I didn't want to risk the rain, so I spent the rest of the evening making Skillet-Fried Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks and reading The Elusive Pimpernel instead. At least I got to ride my bike to work.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Farmer's Bounty

Despite weather that remained humid and cloudy, I headed to the farm market this morning. The farm market was busy, but not nearly as much as usual, and there were no dogs out. Some of the booths were missing, too. The crepes and the honey were gone for the week, but I was still able to pick up blueberries, bread, peaches, sweet potatoes, cherries, and the first New Jersey tomatoes of the season. I made a quick stop at the Collingswood Library to see if they had any good records (they didn't), said "hi" to Erica at the thrift shop, and then went across the street to the Collingswood Variety Store to look at their WebKinz. I ended up with the Pet of the Month, the Cheeky Monkey.

It was surprisingly quiet on my way home. There didn't appear to be a single yard sale this week, and there was no traffic anywhere, even in Collingswood. Maybe they all went grocery shopping. While not quite as crazy as yesterday, work was still very, very busy, and we were still short-handed. (We'll likely remain short-handed for the rest of the week. According to the schedule, half the store is going on vacation.) I did a little grocery shopping after work, picking up Breyers Light Yogurt, bananas, Quaker 90 Calorie Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars, Bigelow's French Vanilla Tea, and two packages of chicken (breasts and thighs). Both were on sale, and the thighs had an extra "manager's sale" $1.00 coupon.

After I got in from work, I put everything away, changed into my bathing suit, and headed over to Uncle Ken's for a swim and dinner. Uncle Ken made ham, cole slaw, macaroni salad, and baked beans. His girlfriend Dolores brought a huge loaf of bread (it was really good - she said she got it from the Acme!), and Karen and Jim contributed fresh corn from the many farm stands in the largely rural area where they live. The pool was cooler than the last time I went in, thanks to the recent clouds, but not freezing. I went in on my own before dinner. After dinner, I was joined by Rose, Jodie, and Karen and Jim's two-year-old son CJ, who just couldn't resist a pool, any pool.

Oh, and meet Micky, the Cheeky Monkey! The last member of the "Webbies," my WebKinz Monkees, Micky is the wild and crazy drummer who loves jokes and fooling around and is named for Micky Dolenz. As the Pet of the Month, he came with some extra goodies, including a Balloon Making Machine, and as Pet #45, he also came with a Super Bed. I chose the cool new Apple Pie Bed - maybe I'll use it in a fall-themed room. The money he came with was used to make a "Concert Arena" for the Webbies on the KinzBeach Boardwalk, complete with a souvenir stand.

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July, Newton River Park

First of all, Happy Fourth of July to all Americans! I hope you all enjoyed fireworks and barbecues of your own today. :)

I worked early for the second 4th of July in a row. Work was, to put it quite mildly, total anarchy. According to several Acme employees, the Shop Rite in Brooklawn, not far from Audubon, lost almost their entire meat inventory when their freezers died...and all their customers now had to come to us or not have meat for their barbecues. I can't believe how many people were doing their big shopping trips today! It must have to do with most people having this weekend off. The lines were down the aisles when I bought a 5-lb bag of Domino's Sugar for $1.99. I wouldn't have bought it if it hadn't been the last one left, if the sale hadn't been so good, and if I wasn't completely out of sugar. Customers were cranky, too - it IS still the beginning of the month. Thank goodness I went on break and got to and from work with no problems.

After I finally got out of that mess, I rode home as quickly as I could, changed into shorts and sandals, put the sugar in the sugar container, grabbed my purse and the cupcakes, and headed over to Uncle Ken's. Dad, Jodie, Jessa, and I drove out to Uncle Ken's daughter Samantha's house in Cinnaminson for her barbecue party. I didn't know she had a pool and didn't bring my bathing suit, but I still had fun eating, watching all the older kids jump into the pool, and chasing Samantha's adorable two-year-old daughter Faith around the backyard and playing catch with her. She has a good arm for a two-year-old. Her brothers must be teaching her.

After we got back in, I rested for a few hours and listened to patriotic old-time radio programs. The "50 Best Radio Shows" set I bought in 2004 came with a few World War II-era shows highlighting America and American history. I listened to two episodes of Cavalcade of America, narrated by Burgess Merredith, and began the Norman Corwin special We Hold These Truths (on the Bill of Rights) before I decided it was clear enough to head out to the fireworks.

The clouds had been on and off all day long. We had a shower this morning just before I went to work, but it hadn't rained since then. Of course, the moment I head out to the fireworks, it starts raining...but not enough to put a damper on the festivities. I made a quick stop at the bank to deposit my paycheck in the ATM machine (since it's on my way anyhow), then headed off to Newton River Park.

Since I'd crossed the White Horse Pike to go to the bank, I decided to watch the fireworks in the park this year, instead of at CVS or the bridge between Collingswood and Oaklyn. I walked around for about 20 minutes, looking for a reletively dry place to sit and just enjoying the festive atmosphere. Though most people were sitting in their cars to avoid the rain, some sat on blankets or tarps on the hillside, and there were even large groups of late picnic-ers by the playground.

I finally found a big, fat old stump in an area by the water that seemed to be completely empty. I'd only just sat down and made myself comfortable under my umbrella when I heard a tremendous, heart-stopping BANG! I whipped around to find a glittering cacophony of sound and color soaring over the rooftops of Collingswood. It was absolutely gorgeous, rain or no rain. I especially loved the heart-shaped ones. That's so neat, how they do that, and so different.

It was still raining when the fireworks ended. I wasn't really wet, thanks to my umbrella, but I didn't want to push it after getting soaked last year, so I didn't stick around for Haddon Township's fireworks. It was just as well. There was massive traffic on the White Horse Pike going back, and it took me longer than it should have to get home.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Give My Regards To Haddon Avenue

I began my only day off this week with library volunteering. I was a busy little bee today. I put children's books left randomly on shelves on a cart to be put away later, I organized the "A" picture books, and I did the children's DVDs. (The B picture books weren't quite as bad.) Despite the gorgeous, warm-but-not-humid day, the library was quite busy, mostly families with young children hoping to find entertainment for tomorrow and the weekend. The library was having it's own problems as I left. Their Internet had gone down, and according to an e-mail they sent out later, remains so.

Instead of heading towards Super Fresh, I went in the other direction. I wanted to look at Walgreens and see if they had any of this month's WCares WebKinz, as well as some more Care Bear Cousins. It took me a while to find the WebKinz, which were in a different spot closer to the front this time, but I walked out with a rare Lil'Kinz Bassett Hound, Bright Heart Raccoon, and Lotsa Heart Elephant.

Since I was in the area and not in a major hurry, I decided to further explore Westmont's end of Haddon Avenue. (The other end is the Collingswood Historic District.) If Collingswood is decidedly turn-of-the-20th-century and Oaklyn's West Clinton Avenue has a sleepy 30s Andy Hardy vibe, Westmont feels like I should be cruising around in a muscle car, blaring Tin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town." The mix of 70s shopping centers, 90s storefronts, and 20s small stores (and the Westmont Theater) has a gritty semi-urban 70s vibe to it.

I stopped at a few stores. The book store was closed for the week, but I did pick up a patriotic-themed cardboard tiara and a bag of red, white, and blue stars to tape on my windows from a party store and peeked at the delicious goodies at McMillian's Bakery. I was sweating bullets by that point, so I headed for Rita's Water Ice for a Coconut Cream regular-sized ice.

The bike didn't feel right as I tried to take off down Haddon Avenue, and when I got off, I realized why - the front tire was flat! After my neighbor fixed the back tire only days ago! I'd taken the blue stationary bike today instead of my mountain bike. I wanted to test it after it was fixed, and the stationary bike has a basket. (I still haven't found one for the mountain bike.)

I was lucky to find a good-sized Ace Hardware and an auto repair/tire store two blocks down from Rita's. I bought the new inner tube from Ace and took the bike next door. The mechanic who owned the store and his granddaughter were nice enough to fix it for me...including after he accidentally punctured the inner tube I'd bought after discovering the tire was split. I ended up buying two inner tubes and a new tire, but the mechanic, his daughter, and the photographer who came by to do a photo inspection of the shop and helped out after he revealed he'd once worked in a bike shop, all finally got the bike back on the road. It worked well enough to get me home. (I just now have one white-walled tire and one black. Ace didn't have any white, and I was in no position to be picky.)

After I got in, I grabbed my laundry and went straight over to Uncle Ken's. I read The Elusive Pimpernel, talked to Dad, Jodie, Vanessa, and Rose, and had a fantastic swim in a super-warm pool. Rose is getting ready for her trip to Costa Rica. Everyone else is getting ready for tomorrow. We're going to head down to visit Uncle Ken's daughter Samantha and her family as soon as I get in.

Oh, and meet Kinsey the Lil'Kinz Bassett Hound! I thought a mystery book name was appropriate for a dog who comes with a "Detective Desk." Kinsey is named after Kinsey Milhone, the heroine of Sue Grafton's Alphabet series, a long-time favorite of mine. Kinsey came with her awesome Detective Desk, a Green Lava Lamp, and a Magic Carpet. She's now under the watchful eye of Linda the Collie in their Library Condo. The WCares finally paid off for me, too - I got a WCares mult-colored "Tubbie Tummies Bear" and an armoire, along with a recipe and 237 Kinzcash. I gave Kinsey the bear for her room. I have no idea where to put the armoire.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I Was So Mad!

This was not a good day. I spent the morning baking Fourth of July Cupcakes for my cousin Samantha's party. I must have put too much applesauce in the batter, because the cupcakes collapsed, and the mini-cake I was going to give to my neighbors to thank them for helping with my bikes fell apart. I'll give my neighbors a card or some cookies instead and cover the cupcakes with whipped topping and sprinkles. I never got to cleaning, either.

Work was a pain in the rear. It wasn't busy when I first came in, but there was a huge crowd during the 4PM-5PM rush hour, and they were obnoxious. I HATE the beginning of the month. These people drive me nuts. They never read signs. They almost never bag. They fuss over every price and give you an attitude when the prices aren't exactly what they want. One woman threw a fit because she wanted one Dear Park water for the $3.99 sale, but the flier and the signs state clear as crystal that you have to buy two of them to get the price. She even blew up at the stock manager who tried to tell her about the flier and the sale. Another group got mad because the Italian meatballs they wanted didn't come up at the price they expected.

I really wish people would learn to leave their attitudes at home. It's not our faults people don't have money these days. Learn to read and count, please, and then maybe you'll be able to figure out these things yourselves.

I was so mad after I got off work, I rode home for a little longer than usual, down Kendall Boulevard and up and back around Atlantic Avenue and Manor Avenue, past the railroad tracks and West Clinton. I didn't want to go home right away; I was afraid I'd hit someone or something, I was so angry. Good thing today was gorgeous, sunny, breezy, and hot but not humid. I had a fast and pleasant ride.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Skip It!

Spent most of this hot, sunny July day indoors. I got my rent together to give to my landlady and did some computer stuff this morning before work, then worked from 11 to 5. Thankfully, that's the longest I work this week. It was steady-to-dead except for during the usual 4-5PM rush hour. There were a few annoying people, but given this is the beginning of the month, it could have been a lot worse. They must all be waiting for the long holiday weekend.

I wanted to spend some time outdoors before dinner, but I didn't really feel like going for a swim or a walk. I decided to try something fast and a little different. I bought a good, made-for-gyms jump rope from the thrift shop two years ago, but never tried it thanks to my knee injuries. It's been hanging in my living room closet ever since. I decided today would be a great day to give it a shot, just for twenty minutes before dinner.

It's been years since I jumped rope. I was never very good at it. I used to try it all the time in Cape May Elementary, but it just seemed to be another thing that everyone else could do better than me. I'd show how well I could jump...than another kid would take the rope and do it three times as well, and I'd just end up feeling silly and embarrassed. I just wasn't as good as the other kids.

It's only recently that I could do many activities, such as swimming or running around the block, without the voice of an obnoxious-but-well-meaning gym teacher in my head. I know I've let this critical voice linger for so long, but they've always seemed to be so right. Why CAN'T I do what other people can do easily? Why AM I so clumsy? The only thing I could ever do was write.

I did as well as I could. I jumped in place on my porch, than skipped and ran around the VFW parking lot, then up and down the street. I'm still not great, and I can't do it more than 20 times without it getting caught on my foot or something, but I still had a nice workout. I think I'll do it again whenever I want to do something active but don't have the time for a walk or a swim. It'll be nice in the winter, too - it's something I can do near-by and in any clothing.