Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Simple Twist of Fondue

I wasn't on last night or the night before due to computer problems. Or more specifically, as it turned out, mouse problems. The right-click wasn't working. I was able to use the keyboard, but not right click the mouse. I finally borrowed two older PC mice from Dad and my cousin Mark tonight, and they do work. I thought it might have been a virus, but it would appear to be a mouse that has never been replaced.

I did finally get my new glasses on Friday. I got quite a shock when, between the coupon and the Union benefits, they only came to $25 (and they were originally 280)! And not only that, but I could see so much better. Everything is amazingly sharp and clear, and the colors are so much brighter and crisper! I guess I hadn't realized just how old my last pair was.

I finished And Then There Were Five on Friday and started a genuine vintage 1948 pirate swashbuckler novel, The Golden Hawk, yesterday. I'm going to have to look for more Melendy Quartet books. The Melendys are four kids living in a huge old house in the country with their dad and housekeeper during World War II. Their adventures - holding a fair and auction, canning, meeting their eccentric neighbors during a scrap drive, fishing with a nice old man, adopting a local teenager after his cousin dies in a fire - are fun and exciting. While the story of Mark and his cousin gets a little melodramatic, the subsequent fire and adoption are handled somewhat realistically and with care.

I spent most of yesterday and today working and cleaning. I also got to the farm market for the first time in almost a month yesterday. The blueberries are gone, but the apples and pears are out, and I was able to get blackberries, celery, carrots, a small loaf of bread (since I still have some of my home-made rye left), cranberry-pear butter, and peaches.

When I went over to Dad's to borrow the mice, I ran smack into a fondue party. Jessa had apparently been begging Dad and Jodie for fondue, and since fondue is largely party food, Dad and Jodie made it into a small Labor Day bash for me, Dolores, Uncle Ken, Mark, Vanessa, Jess, Brittany, and Jess' buddies Crystal and Alexis. Dad sliced up broccoli, French bread, and apples to dip in melted swiss. Vanessa contributed a massive five-pound zucchini. Jodie brought potatoes, sliced beef, and shrimp for a second pot filed with olive oil. It was tasty and fun...and far more interesting for a Labor Day bash than your ordinary barbecue!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We're Havin' A Mario Party...

I awoke to a ringing phone. Yes, it was the Acme. Could I come in at 10AM instead of noon? No. I'd just gotten up! I ended up going it at 11. I still need the hours, not only for vacation, but for rent, glasses and contacts, and what my insurance doesn't cover for my dental exams. Work was steady-to-busy, except around noon, when the lines suddenly went crazy and I realized how low on help we were when we had to call managers to work registers.

I did my laundry later than usual, around quarter of 6. Uncle Ken was painting furniture. Dolores was listening to the radio. Jessa was chatting on the computer in her room; we ended up talking until dinner. Dolores made us pepper steak and rice while she and Uncle Ken watched an Eagles pre-season game, and we talked to her.

After dinner, Jessa and I played "Mario Party 8" on her Wii. The "Mario Party" games are actually electronic board games. You choose a character (Jessa was Toad in this case, I was Princess Peach), and in the regular "Party Tent" section, have them play each other and two computer-driven characters in a board-game style game. In this case, it was a Monopoly-esque competition. The characters run around the "board," spending so much money on a hotel. The more money you spend, the more stars you get. If you spend 20 coins on a 1-star hotel, for instance, it'll turn into a 2-star hotel and you'll get 2 stars. If you spend 30 coins, the 2-star hotel becomes a 3-star hotel.

Between rounds, the four characters play each other in mini-battle games that are more arcade-like. You can either play 4-player battle (each character against each other), 3-on-1 (three characters against 1 character) or 2 on 2 (tag teams). The winner (and on some games, the second-place character) gets 10 coins. The exception is "Battle Royale." In this case, everyone puts 20 coins (or as many coins as they can) in the pot, and we get a different 4-player game. Jessa was winning before Dolores came up to announce that Erica was on the porch chatting with them and wanted to see me.

I did say "hi" to Erica, a friend of mine, and apologized for ducking out on thrift shop volunteering today. She said it was all right. Another volunteer had a client cancel and came in at the last minute. I promised I'd do it for her when I come back from vacation next month. Right now is just too crazy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blueberry Bonanza

Tina requested the recipe for my blueberry white cake. Here it is:

Blueberry White Cake

1 box of white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker, but any will do)
3 egg whites
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Acme's generic plain yogurt, but any low-or-non-fat will do)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup water
1 cup blueberries

Mix and prepare the cake as indicated on the box, adding the yogurt after the oil. Add the blueberries last. Bake as indicated on box. I made a bundt cake, but I'll bet this would be great for a snack cake or taken to a Labor Day barbecue.
Workin' For A Livin'

I ended up spending almost all of today at work. Someone called out, and I was asked to stay an extra two hours, bringing this shift up to 8 hours. Not really too much of a big deal, but tiring. I haven't worked an 8 hour shift in months. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a lot of call-outs this week. This IS the last week of summer vacation for most kids and those who work for the school systems. I'm surprised I didn't get more hours originally. Oh well, between my vacation, my rent, my glasses and contacts, and still paying for my dental appointments, I really need the money.

Work was steady today, not really too crazy. It's the middle of the week and the end of the month coming up on a holiday. It'll be much busier this weekend, when people who aren't preparing for end-of-the-summer Labor Day barbecues start stocking up for kids' school lunches and back-to-school meals.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cleaning Lady

Did my library volunteering today. I organized the children's DVDs, which needed it badly (everything was out-of-place), put the adult DVDs away (there were a ton), and organized the adult CDs. I also brought back the book I was reading and finally finished, The Temple of Music, a fascinating Ragtime-esque historical novel on the assasination of President McKinley at the titular building in Buffalo in 1901. Unlike Ragtime, however, all of the characters were real, from McKinley's mentally ill wife Ida to the equally troubled assassin, Leon. I just left after I finished with the CDs. I didn't think it was a good idea to take out anything else before my vacation.

I made a quick stop at Super Fresh, but I didn't like the prices there on the things I needed, then took the long way home across Newton River Park. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, dry, and about 80 degrees. I made one last quick stop at Doria's Deli, but they were closed for their summer vacation, so I just headed home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon baking Blueberry White Cake, reading the Melendy Quartet book Linda Young sent me, and cleaning my bathroom and kitchen, both of which badly needed it, especially the bathroom. The ring around the bathtub was terrible!

About half-way through cleaning the bathroom, the Acme called. Could I come in Thursday? I wasn't sure. I told Erica I'd volunteer for the thrift shop on Thursday morning, and they wanted me to come in at noon. I finally said yes. I felt bad because Erica asked me first...but the Acme's paid work, and I still need the hours to pay my rent and to pay for my glasses, dental work, and vacation. Maybe I could do an hour, or come in on a day when I come back and the Acme is less busy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Group Balance

Did my yoga class today. It was a fair-sized class, and I just barely made it, but it went well. I really need to work on strengthening my arms and shoulders. I have a hard time lifting my body for plank and wheel moves and upward-facing dog, and forget headstands. I actually met a woman from Collingswood who doesn't have kids after the class. We didn't get a chance to chat for very long because I had work, but it's nice to know I'm really not the only single person in the area.

Work was steady-to-busy. It was stressful, as it always is on a busy day, but my relief was on time and I got out with no problems. I spent the rest of the evening editing our recent stories and eating leftovers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Our Bi-Weekly Bread

Long lines and lots of stress made my very busy work day a pain in the rear. As usual, people just don't read the signs or look at the fliers. One woman kept insisting that she could only buy $200 worth of food...when she had at least $300 in her cart. Does anyone learn how to count anymore? Half a cart's worth of food had to be put back,including cold items. AND she held up the darn line getting another cart for what she did buy!

One of the advantages of working earlier is getting off earlier. I was able to spend the rest of a quiet afternoon baking bread, catching up with family on the phone, and going for a walk in the neighborhood. I finally got a hold of Rose. She's happy - she had a great time in Costa Rica - but very busy. She's returning to Rutgers Law School tomorrow and she has a million things to do. She wants to go visit the family in Cape May County sometime before I go on vacation, and we both need new driver's licenses and non-driver's IDs. I need to get my hair cut, too.

I called Mom after calling Rose. Mom was in a much better mood this time. She was in the midst of dinner; cooking usually helps her mood. Or maybe it was because my stepfather was going fishing tomorrow, or because my nephew will be finally returning to day care next month (and one closer to his mother's job).

I decided to try a Swedish rye bread recipe out of one of my 50s cookbooks. While that rose the first time, I had a simple, light dinner of spinach salad with sliced chicken breast. While it rose the second time, I went down the street to treat myself to frozen yogurt from Leo's Yum Yums, since we weren't able to get any yesterday. Despite the windy, lovely night, it dripped faster than the last time I had a cone, but I managed to finish it before it made a mess.

Oh, and by the way, I finally baked the rye bread tonight and it came out beautifully. I really love making bread. It's so therapeutic, kneading and turning the dough. And it's something you made, something that's good for you and tastes a thousand times better than anything off of a shelf.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Like Father, Like Daughter

Today was one of my early work days this week. Even with such a beautiful day, work was busy and went quickly. There were a lot of really big orders. If kids weren't going to college or coming to one of the colleges in the area, people were returning from vacation or stocking up for Labor Day barbecues or back-to-school. (Not to mention, the Acme is just having a lot of great sales this weekend.)

Since it was such a nice day, I thought I'd go for a swim. We're probably on the last few weeks for the pool. I ended up at Uncle Ken's after a quick stop at the bank to deposit my paycheck in the ATM machine. Uncle Ken and Dolores had gone to Wildwood for the weekend, but Dad, Jodie, Brittany, and Jessa were around. I went for the swim first. The water was cooler than it has been, but still nice. After my swim, I joined the girls upstairs. They were still playing Lego Star Wars; when they finally got bored with it, they decided they were in the mood for the real live-action Star Wars movies. We watched The Empire Strikes Back downstairs until dinner.

Dinner wasn't bad...or at least, us girls didn't think it was. Poor Daddy was upset. He kept going on and on about how terrible the food was. He overcooked the broccoli. He didn't season the shrimp scampi enough. The fried rice clumped. While I admit the Scampi needed a little bit more seasoning, it was far from inedible. The broccoli and fried rice tasted fine, and the salad was delicious, filled with fresh tomatoes from Uncle Ken's tomato plants. Even after Jodie, the girls, and cleared our plates and went back for seconds, Dad STILL continued on and on about how he'd botched dinner!

He sounded like ME. A lot. I always assumed I did it just because I don't think and it's the first thing that comes out of my mouth. Now I'm wondering if it's genetic. Jodie confirmed that yes, Dad's a perfectionist, too. (She also added that Dad had been in a bad mood for much of the day, which may have been part of the reason for the dinner incident.)

After a chat with Jodie and Dad on the porch, Jodie and I decided to take Jessa and Brittany to Leo's Yum Yums Ice Cream Parlor for some dessert. Alas, it turned out they were closed until 8PM, and it was only quarter after 7. We did get a nice ride in Dad's classic red Mustang out of it, though.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fighting Tooth and Nail

I had my first dental appointment since late May today. Alas, it won't be my last. As it turns out, I still have so much carbon and tartar build-up left in my teeth, they're going to need a few more one-hour sessions - yes, with needles - to get it all out! They just did the upper left side today. The needles hurt and I did cry a little, but the dentist doing the cleaning was nice - she hates needles, too.

I went next-door to the bank to cash a small rebate check after my dental appointment, since the bank is just a block over from the dentist's office. They were having a hot dog spread for their Customer Appreciation Day (though not cooked over an open grill this time). I ended up with a hot dog (no bun), two brownies, a small water bottle, and some chili. Not that I could really chew much, given my numb mouth, but it was a nice gesture anyway. I spent the rest of the afternoon before work editing the five or siz short stories Lauren and I have written over the past month. (Look for them over the next few days. Lauren went on her annual weekend bus tour with her parents, which should give me time to finally catch up on editing.)

Work was steady-to-dead, no problem at all and likely to remain so as long as this gorgeous 85 degree weather holds out. I did my grocery shopping for the week after work and got a larger-than-usual paycheck (good thing, given I just paid for my LAST dental appointment and need to pay for my glasses and contacts).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lego My Lightsaber!

Today was one of my two early work shifts this week, and the longer one. It was...long. There were quite a few pain-in-the-rear customers, including one older lady who made a fuss when I didn't know whether or not I could take her ID card to cash her check. We're only supposed to take Federal or military driver's licenses and non-driver's IDs. The head front end manager was at a meeting and wasn't able to tell me we can fill out a special card for senior citizens who don't drive until the woman was gone. (At any rate, I wasn't the only one the old lady was grouchy to. The woman behind her complained that she yelled at her when she accidentally knocked into her flowers, which were hanging unavoidably over the side of her cart.)

When I came home, I had several messages waiting on my answering machine. One was a telemarketer. One was a wrong number. The last one was from the girl who helped me select and price glasses at America's Best yesterday. She said she had an extra 50% off coupon from working there that she didn't need, as she'd just gotten glasses not long ago, and had asked her boss if I could have it. It brought the price she mentioned yesterday down to about $75, which is much better. I'm so glad everyone at America's Best (including the doctors and the receptionist) were so sweet.

After I called her back and said, sure, thanks a lot, I'd be glad for any help I could get. I went over to Uncle Ken's to do the laundry after that and spent most of the evening watching Jessa and Brittany play the Lego Star Wars Wii game. Yes, this was the same game I watched my little cousins play all Christmas afternoon. It really is addictive. It's more-or-less an RPG version of all six Star Wars films...but as if you were playing a Zelda game with the real Star Wars Lego sets. There's Lego-like versions of all the characters, and much of the game play revolves around characters having to build staircases or ramps or take apart doors to secret rooms or levels.

I had dinner at Uncle Ken's, too. Daddy made egg-batter-fried tilapia, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, peas, and macaroni and cheese.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Eyes Don't Have It

Work went well today, quiet with no major problems and only a small crowd around noon. The absolutely stunning weather (80 degrees and no humidity) probably played a major role. It might be just as well. I had enough trouble with my eye exam.

The exam itself went well enough. I finally went to a brand-new America's Best that opened earlier this year in the shopping center behind the Acme. America's Best takes up the second-largest store next to the free-standing Staples, in the block that also includes Pepboys, a nail salon, a laudromat, and Audubon's post office. I first had a small pre-exam to check if I had any major eye injuries or illnesses. After that, I waited for about fifteen minutes. I sat in the bland waiting area (just metal benches, no reading material or anything) listening to the women gossip until I couldn't stand it, then went in the main lobby/glasses area to look at the newest frames.

Dr. Chang was very nice when I finally got in. After a series of the usual tests (flashing a light in my eyes, having me read letters), she told me most of what I already knew. My eyes are lousy. I have a small stigma in my left eye (which is why the left one is lazy). What I HADN'T known is that they've gotten slightly worse since 2000. THAT hurt. Mom told me my eyes should have stabilized by now!

On the other hand, she also told me I could wear contacts as long as it was a special prescription. THAT, I could handle. I've wanted to try contacts. My sister Rose and my Aunt Terri wear them with no problems. Not only did I think my eyes were too bad for contacts, but I figured they would be a bad idea for me. I'm so clumsy, I assumed I'd break them, or they would be too scratchy and make my eyes water constantly, or they'd never stay in place.

Glasses didn't go nearly as well. Even after choosing an inexpensive pair, my huge lenses were way outside of their sales. The glasses and the special custom prescription lenses would cost over $280 all together...and I've heard that's cheap! I told her we'd probably have to wait for October.

So, no glasses now. I have vacation this month, and I don't know how I'm going to afford bills and my rent and vacation and glasses. It was probably a stupid idea to get an eye exam when I'm still paying for dental appointments. I should have just called the damn union about my insurance. I hate calling people. The union should have just sent me the vision claim I'd asked for instead of a dental claim! And I really, really, REALLY hate asking for money. I haven't done it in years, but it makes me feel like a little kid. I'm proud of my independence. I've spent most of my life having to let people buy me things because I couldn't get a job or money.

I wouldn't have even bothered with an eye exam now, but the glasses I'm wearing now are my old prescription from the mid-late 90s. The frames are in decent shape, but I'm getting really bad double vision, and I have a hard time reading things far away. I'm really worried. I should have done this in March, when I got my check, but I just didn't think. I NEVER think. And when I don't think about things before I do them, I get into trouble.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Music, Music, Music!

Did my library volunteering this morning. They're getting better at organizing the children's DVDs. Once again, the DVDs were (generally) with the right letter groups, but the DVDs were out of order in the groups. (For instance, some of the Sesame Street DVDs were before Strawberry Shortcake, and Bob the Builder was all over the Bs.) I also rounded up the children's books that were left sitting on the shelves and either put them on display or on the racks for the librarians to put away later. After I left the library, I stopped at Super Fresh quickly for carrots and spinach, then headed home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on editing the many short stories Lauren and I have written for the role play in the past few months and filling my new MP3 player for my vacation in two and a half weeks. I know it's early to be thinking of music, but I wanted to fiddle with my MP3 player and see how it works before I go on my trip, instead of putting it off until a couple of days beforehand. I added some more Monkees (we ARE going to see Micky Dolenz at the end of the week), some jazz vocalists, and songs taken from various rock compilations.

I went for a short walk before dinner. It was hotter but windy, not humid, and really gorgeous. I'm so glad the weather's been great this month. August is usually one of the worst months of the year weather-wise, steamy hot and humid, but this August has mostly been one of the loveliest months weather-wise I've ever enjoyed in my life. I made a quick stop at the river at the end of Goff Avenue, then went back around that neighborhood and down Kendall Avenue. I wasn't the only one out and about. Mothers walked their children in strollers. Old people shot the breeze on their porches or stoops. Two teenage girls were chatting away happily on their bikes. I saw a woman walk her huge German Shepard on my way back to my apartment.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Balancing Lesson

Started the day with Yogawood. It was an unusually small class, just four people including me. (Perhaps people were avoiding the heat. It got up to the upper 80s-lower 90s today, not bad for this time of year but warmer than it has been lately.) I'm still working on certain moves. I don't know why my balance is so bad. I can't stand for more than a few second on one foot without more support. I wish I could get to the Gentle Vinyasa classes. Everyone always seems to be able to do shoulder stands but me. Jill helped me, but my shoulders just aren't strong enough yet.

And all four women had children. Once they started talking about their children, I might as well have not been there anymore. Now, don't get me wrong. I love kids, and I'm glad they loved theirs. I just wish I could talk about it with them, too. That's the downside to living in lovely suburbs. I seem to be the only single late twentysomething who lives in the lovely suburbs. There's no one else around here who isn't married with a family or retired.

I visited the thrift shop afterwards to cheer me up. I actually found some good stuff there for the first time in weeks. I ended up with a battered copy of a 50s-era pirate novel, 4 CD-Rs (for 35 cents each!), and a collection of hits from the 1920s.

Headed home after leaving the thrift shop. I dropped my finds on the table, grabbed the Oaklyn Library DVDs that were due today, and went right back out again on foot. I made a quick stop at the library and dropped the DVDs on the counter, then went to WaWa for turkey, milk (they have it the cheapest of anyone in the area), and one of those awesome fountain sodas with the flavored syrup. (I made my own Cherry Coke Zero.)

Spent the rest of the afternoon adding more music to the MP3 player and copying and burning the CDs I took out of the Haddon Township Library. I finished with just enough time to jump on my bike and head to work. Work was almost a total replay of yesterday, steady with lots of large orders and no really major problems. Between college students leaving for college, college students arriving at the local colleges, and people returning from vacations, I imagine it'll be steady for the rest of the week. (Which does explain my sudden increase in hours.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Slice of Pie

As sweet as the title character from Waitress it's named after, this simple concoction is easy to make and will bring a little bit of the tropics to your Labor Day get-together or end-of-the-summer barbecue.

Jenna's Coconut Sweet Lime Pudding Pie

1 Shortbread or Graham Cracker Pre-Made Pie Crust
1 16 oz package Vanilla or French Vanilla Pudding (I used regular, but sugar free/fat free would probably work, too)
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup of lime yogurt (I used the 4 oz Fiber One Lime Yogurt, but any lime flavor but fruit-on-the bottom would likely work)
1 8 oz tub whipped topping (I used Acme's lite, but any regular flavor will do)
1 tsp lime juice (more if you like your pie extra lime-y)
2 tsp green food coloring (optional)

Make the pudding as directed on the package. Add 1/2 a cup of coconut, lime yogurt, lime juice, and if you wish, food coloring. Spread in the crust; set crust aside. Scoop the whipped topping into a second bowl; add the remaining coconut and mix. When thoroughly blended, pour over pudding layer. Put the pie in the refrigerator. Let chill for an hour.
Gonna Make Me A Pie

I woke up late and just made it to work. Work went quite well. It was steady but not busy, and though my relief was late, it was quiet enough for me to leave on time anyway. I was originally going to make coconut cookies this afternoon, but I finally decided it was too hot and opted to make another pudding pie instead.

After a short walk to CVS for eggs and shoelaces (the laces on one of my work sneakers was fraying and I was afraid it would break any day), I came home, made my Coconut Lime Cream Pie, and watched Waitress, the last of the three DVDs I took out from the Oaklyn Library last week. Waitress was the touching, sweet story of Jenna, the title diner server who excels in pie-baking, but not her love-life. She desperately wants to earn the money to take her amazing desserts to a pie-baking contest and get away from her stifling, jealous husband. She's initially frustrated when she discovers she's pregnant and her plans may have to be put on hold, but her encounters with her handsome new doctor and the grumpy owner of the pie shop where she works may help change her feelings about motherhood...and about her life.

I was quite impressed with this sweet, good-natured tale of a woman who learns to take her life into her own hands, and that motherhood can be as sweet and as difficult a journey as any pie-baking. Not to mention, most of the pies she talks about really do sound sensational.

Oh, and I talked to Mom tonight. She's not terribly happy. Daddy has had trouble with his fishing boat breaking constantly all summer, and there's not much left of the fishing season. She's worried he won't make enough to pay their bills or the mortgage on their new house. I wish I could help, but I don't even own a house. I'll be lucky if I can afford my vacation.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Misfit Among Misfits

I ended up spending most of the day at work. I started work at 9 today anyway, and Sharon asked me to stay two more hours when one of the cashiers got sick and had to go home. No problem. I still badly needed the hours. It was tiring, though, and I was already tired to begin with.

I wish I could be better when I'm tired. I can't help it. It's too easy to revert to old habits, old fears when I'm not thinking. Sometimes I wish my memory wasn't so good. I see all those people who chuckle when I get upset, and I know they don't mean any harm...but then I remember snickering elementary school kids who hated me because they couldn't and wouldn't understand me, and sneering Special Services kids who thought I was crazy and a baby.

I don't know if they still do this, but during my last year at the Cape May County Special Services Middle School, I went on an overnight field trip to a bed and breakfast in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia with a bunch of the other last-year girls and some female teachers. It was supposed to be a female bonding experience, but I felt even less like I belonged after the trip. On the way up, two of the oldest girls asked if they could see the Garfield comic book I was reading. I later discovered they tore a page out before they gave it back. (Those two girls didn't make it to the overnight part of the trip - they were sent home for causing trouble during our stop at the Franklin Institute.)

I felt so out-of-place. The two bedrooms filled with bunks were cramped and sleeping wasn't fun, especially since half the girls complained about sleeping arrangements, toothbrushes, and wanting more time on their own. I felt better when I was able to read and eat Lemon Poppyseed Muffins on my own. Some of the girls played ping pong, or gossiped, or played board games. I didn't feel like I could really join any of them, and I didn't think they'd want me to.

The next morning, we gathered in the main room. We listened to soothing music while working on some meditation and breathing techniques. That wasn't so bad. The bad part was when we were all supposed to discuss our fears, our troubles, and try to get help and support. I found out that day that some of the girls had been raped. Others had been having sex since they were 14. Most came from broken homes.

When the girls confessed their troubles, there was much crying, hand-holding, hugging, sympathy. What about me? What was my troubles?

I was lonely. I had no one to talk to. Few of the students lived on Cape Island, which is where my family lived at the time. I was friends with a few of the gentler girls, but the closest lived off the island in the Tranquility subdivision between the Cape May Bridge and North Cape May. As Yukon Cornelius put it, even among misfits, I was a misfit. The kids didn't read. They didn't write. They listened to rap, not classic rock. They didn't watch any movie older than a year or so, didn't play any sports they hadn't learned in "the hood."

No one went to my side. No one hugged me. No one offered words of sympathy, or support. No one touched me. They all looked at me like I was from Mars, even the teachers. How could I have any troubles? No man had ever been with me, and given what I looked like, doubtless never would. I'd never been physically harmed, never bore a child, and my mother and stepfather were happily married. I lived in a large old house in a fancy old resort. How could I even dare to INSINUATE I had any problems? I was perfect!

I wasn't perfect. No one understands what it's like to be constantly alone. I never felt right at the Special Services School after that. I hoped to make peace on a similar outing to celebrate the end of the year and our leaving the school, one at a teacher's home in West Cape May, but it didn't go any better. The girls just thought I was weird, boring, and hopelessly naive.

That fear and doubt still turns up to this very day. I'm still afraid no one will ever understand what it's like to be alone. Everyone will be sophisitcated and fun and witty and pretty, and I'll be plain and boring and no one will want me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dear Deers and Other Tales

My phone rang less than ten minutes after my eyes opened this morning. It was Donna, the head front end manager at the Acme. Did I want to come in for a few hours this morning? They were really low on help. Heck YEAH I wanted to come in! I needed the hours rather badly, and I'd be in eventually anyway to pick up my paycheck. I was hoping I'd get called in sometime this week. I have bills to pay and I'm trying to save for my vacation.

Work, thankfully, was no problem other than we really did lack help. It was steady, but the lines were only long because we didn't have enough people to open enough registers. My relief was on time, and I was able to get in and out with no trouble.

Despite the heat and humidity, I decided to do what I'd planned to do that afternoon and went to the Willie the Woodsman Gift Shop on Pine Street between Audubon and Haddon Heights, since the Acme's not far from there anyway. I'm on their mailing list, and they sent me an e-mail last night that said they'd just gotten in this month's new WebKinz. I almost got the Lil'Kinz Blue Jay, but finally ended up with the adorable Deer.

The rest of the afternoon was spent messing around with my new MP3 player at home and watching DVDs. I did Strawberry Shortcake after I got in and The Big Bus during dinner. The Big Bus turned out to be a spoof of disaster movies, released four years before a more famous action-movie satire, Airplane!. While lacking some of that movie's more inventive (and raunchy) gags, it's a surprisingly fun ride on it's own merits. A cast of kooky stereotypes find themselves on the maiden voyage of the Cyclops, the first nuclear-powered bus, which is going non-stop from New York to Denver.

One of the things I like about this film is, for all the gags (the bus contains a separate dining room, a pool, a bowling alley, a lounge, and an all-microwave kitchen, among other odd luxuries you won't find on Greyhound), you really do feel the suspense when the bus almost goes over a cliff, and the bus' designer Stockard Channing almost drowns in soda (long story). The cast was great, too. In addition to Channing, we have Joseph Bologna as the head bus driver and her ex-boyfriend who was once accused of cannibalism, Richard Mulligan and Sally Kellerman as a bickering couple about to divorce, Rene Auberjonois as a conflicted priest, and Ruth Gordon as the old lady who gets stuck listening to the priest. Lynn Redgrave and Murphy Dunne have the most fun as, respectively, a fashion designer with the campiest fall line this side of the La Cage Aux Follies musical and Murphy Dunne as the incredibly tactless lounge pianist.

Only one major complaint - what in the HECK happened to the ending? The movie ends at least ten or fifteen minutes sooner than it really should, and several plot threads are never resolved. (We never do find out of the bus ever made it to Denver.)

(Another question - I wonder what happened to the bus itself? IMDb mentions that the exteriors were done on an actual mega-bus, not a model or a miniature or computer effects. I imagine it's probably rusting in some airplane hanger somewhere...)

Oh, and meet Rhonda the Deer! She's taking care of Duke the Lil'Kinz Pig for now in his Farm Room, but since deers are usually not welcome on farms (where they're often considered pests), she'll be moving to the fall-themed rooms I'm hoping to make after this year's Fall-Fest in October.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Adventures In the Imagination

I enjoyed a rare chance to sleep in today. After a simple breakfast of summer fruit compote and yogurt, I went to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session. I did the children's DVDs again and started the adult CDs, neither of which stay in order for very long. Actually, the children's DVDs weren't TOO bad. Most of the right letters were together, but the series were out of order. It looks so much better when all of the Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine episodes are together, not to mention every copy of Happy Feet and the recent version of Charlotte's Web. I wound up taking out for CDs (Bon Jovi, Lynyrd Skyard, jazz musician Jamie Cullum, and the soundrack of Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird) and two animated DVDs, The Backyardigans: High Flying Adventures and Strawberry Shortcake: Let's Dance.

I made a few quick stops on the way home. I took a brief look at the new fall decorations at JoAnn's (I'm hoping to get some more Thanksgiving decorations - I have plenty for fall in general and Halloween) and at Super Fresh to see if they had any chocolate chips or cooking spray on sale. Nope, and nothing was cheaper than the Acme, so I left there. Next stop was Dollar Tree, where I bought a small container of floss, a water bottle, and a coloring/activity book for my vacation next month. I stopped at the little bagel shop a few doors down in the same mall and had a pizza bagel and French fries, then went across the street to Rite Aid for travel-sized mouth wash and Sensodyne toothpaste and a pack of crayons (they were $.50!).

After I got in and put everything away, I went over to Uncle Ken's to do my laundry. Dad and Uncle Ken was just relaxing when I got in. Dad had worked on watering the plants earlier, and Uncle Ken was getting over being sick. No one else was home. (Jodie came in about twenty minutes before I left.) I went for a swim in the pool. It was chillier than last week, thanks to the chilly weather earlier this week. I let my swim go a little longer than usual on my own. I suspect we may be down to our last few weeks with swimming. The weather may get a little warmer, but I don't think it's going to stay that way as long or as often as it did earlier this summer.

I watched The Backyardigans during dinner. It's amazing what this show comes up with. One episode had pink-bug-like Uniqua as a pilot delivering singing telegrams to Pablo the Penguin Pirate, Tasha the Indian Hippo Queen, and Tyrone the Abominable Moose-man to the tune of 50s doo-wop. Another episode had heights-fearing Tasha and ever-brave Uniqua delivering pizza to Aztec king Tyrone in ancient Mexico while singing college fight songs. Another was a Night at the Museum style story where Security Guard Tyrone found himself in a game of tag with moving artworks Uniqua, Austin, and Pablo while doing flamenco.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kingdom of Caring

In a reverse of yesterday's schedule, I began today at work. It was surprisingly busy for the middle of the week and the middle of one of the least-exciting months of the year. There were some annoying customers, and I had a few frustrating breakdowns (I'm just tired), but there were otherwise no problems and my relief was on time.

I went for a short walk after work and took three DVDs out of the Oaklyn Library. One is a selection of "try your best"-themed episodes from the 1988-1990 cartoon Care Bears Family Kingdom of the Moon, one was a 70s parody of disaster films called The Big Bus (I thought it seemed rather appropriate, seeing how that's my usual mode of long-distance transportation), and one was another adult-oriented recent film I've wanted to see, Waitress, about a long-suffering waitress who turns to her love of pie-baking for comfort. Anything that touches on baking as healing is going to intrigue me...I can certainly relate to THAT.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Walk In the Neighborhood

I slept in this morning and spent an hour or so after breakfast adding more music to my new MP3 player and experimenting with arranging songs. I've never really done that before. I did soundtracks today, and the only one I ended up just taking straight off was the soundtrack for the first Back To The Future movie. I only added the vocal numbers from Brother Bear and rearranged the soundtracks for Grease and the Hairspray remake to better reflect the way the songs are actually organized in the films. I also added three songs from the second disk of my two-disc Hairspray movie soundtrack - a ballad that was intended for Tracy when she's hiding in the Pingletons' bomb shelter that was cut, "I Can Wait", and two vocal background numbers, "Breakout" and "Trouble On the Line."

After I did the soundtracks, I decided I needed to just get out and about, so I went for a walk. It was a lovely day, lower-80s and sunny, with no wind. It was warmer than yesterday, but still not nearly as bad as it usually is this time of year. I just walked around the neighborhood, down Manor, down the back roads behind West Clinton, and over to the park/schoolyard. I didn't have enough time to play in the playground this time. I wish I had. It was quiet there and in the park. Everything looked so much better than it did the last time I went for a walk there. Water plants grew in the lake, which no longer had alge in it. Canadian geese feasted on the very green grass on the field behind the school, which no longer looked like one big patch of straw. (And the geese must have scared the bees away. I was wearing sandals again, and this time, I made it across the field with no stung toes.)

Work wasn't nearly as fun. I had plenty of people who were obnoxious and rude, and things just plain didn't go right. One woman kept insisting that the 23 oz boxes of Frosted Flakes she bought were $2.49, even though they came up 5.19. I sent a bagger to check. He said $5.19. I went to see myself. Turns out they WERE on sale...a month ago. The sale had ended in July. Somebody forgot to take the tag down! And not only that tag, but a couple of other Frosted Flake tags on that shelf, too. One was from May! Not only that, but this is the second time in three days an item came up wrong, and a dated tag was to blame. Whomever is putting up tags now really has to be more careful. I gave the lady what she wanted, but it held up a long line and was just plain frustrating. (And it might help if they made the print for the sale expirations on the tags larger, like they used to. I'm sure the customers wouldn't notice it, but the employees might see it quicker.)

Oh, and I finished Get Smart today. Most of Get Smart seems to have aged very well. Spy spoof, movie parodies, and cute, goofy little men who think they're James Bond and are paired with voluptuous and intelligent Mata Haris never go out of style. PC sensitive folks might want to be warned that there are a few Oriental stereotypes here, both negative and somewhat positive (Harry Hoo was so popular he became a semi-recurring character and is a big help to Max, but as with his inspiration Charlie Chan, he's obviously played by a white man). Other than that, this show is still hilarious fun for the whole family, kids too. (My 15-year-old brother Keefe is a big fan of this show. He once told me he used to watch it before school when it ran on TV Land in the early mornings around 2000-2001. He loves Mel Brooks, so this show is right up his alley.)

Favorite episodes from this first season include the black-and-white pilot "Mr. Big" mentioned in a previous entry, the delightfully funny and suspenseful two-parter "Ship of Spies" (the first story handily deserved its Emmy win), and our introduction to lovable Hymie the Robot, "Back to the Old Drawing Board." Ok, so the new box set doesn't have the extras the big full-show set from Time Life did, but it's also 15 to 20 dollars in most places and does have a few commentaries and Barbara Felton's lovely introductions. That's good enough for me. Beyond the Disney Platinum sets, I'm not that big of a fan of extras anyway. I just want to see some shows that don't get re-run nearly as often as they should anymore. (Which is why I try never to buy shows that are still on the air or seen frequently in re-runs on DVD. Same goes for movies unless I really, REALLY like them. If I want to see newer stuff, I can rent it or borrow it from the libraries.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Trouble With Balance

I went to Yogawood for this week's class this morning. It was still cool, and I made the mistake of going in shorts and a tank top. It wasn't bad in Yogawood (which only has fans), but it was fairly chilly outside! Class went pretty well. It was large, not as big as last week's, but a good size. I'm still having problems with balance, and it's not easy to concentrate on the moves, either. Jill, the teacher, says to "let go," but I always have so much on my mind.

Since I didn't work until 4 today, I thought I'd wander around Collingswood a bit after class. This was cut short when I remembered that today is Monday and most stores are closed. I spent some time at the Collingswood Library (they have an excellent collection of books on the performing arts) and made a brief stop at the thrift shop to say "hi" to Erica. Didn't end up getting anything in either place. I eventually went home for lunch and more Get Smart and spent the rest of the afternoon puttering around on the computer and editing some of the stories Lauren and I have written lately.

Work was busy when I finally got in, with a few annoying customers. Mondays are usually busy, especially around the 4PM-5PM rush hour. A lot of families with kids going to school in a few weeks and college students who will be beginning classes as early as next week probably needed to get caught up on their shopping.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What People Do On A Rainy Day

It was cool and cloudy when I headed to work around 10 for today's shift. Work was steady until about half-way through, when the dark clouds burst and cleared everyone out. It rained off and on for the rest of the day. I got very lucky and managed to get home during an "off" period, waiting for just a few minutes after buying ice cream, celery, and carrots. (I ran out of carrot and celery sticks. I bring those to work as part of my work meal, and they're great snacks at home, too. The ice cream was to use to top the brownies I made on Friday.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Get Smart episodes (I'm now on the beginning of the fourth disk), calling Mom, and making bread. I wasn't able to call Mom in the morning and did it right after I got home. She, Dad, and Keefe were in the midst of playing the new Mario Kart Wii game...and Dad and Keefe were in the midst of one of their eternal macho posturing battles. Poor Mom. She'd been listening to them all afternoon, since they had the same off-and-on weather we did.

(Lauren later revealed during a chat that she was having the off-and-on rain in New England, too.)

I haven't been able to make bread since May. I didn't want to turn my apartment into a sauna. It was so cool today I thought I might be able to get away with a simple recipe...and I was right. I made the Wheat, Molasses, and Oat loaf tonight, without it getting to hot in here. The loaf is cooling on the table in the dining section of my living room now.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Cool In August...And Loving It!

I awoke to quite a shock this morning. It At least 65 degrees. In the morning. In August. I didn't need an air conditioner in the morning in August. It's August, and I didn't need an air conditioner. Or even a fan, really.

I was quite a happy woman. And a tired one. I was up a little too late last night, making work more of a pain than it should have been. I was really down on myself today. I didn't mean to be, but it gets worse when I'm tired. I don't think well when I'm tired. I'm sick of feeling like the last 29-year-old left in the entire South Jersey area who lives by herself, isn't married, has no real family of her own and no friends nearby, and went to college and is still stuck in a job she hates.

I went to a craft fair in Collingswood to cheer myself up after work. The weather was almost exactly the same as yesterday (sunny with occasional clouds), but cooler...and no rain this time. Unlike the fair on Memorial Day weekend, it was just crafts and food this time, no rides or games or classic cars. I didn't have the money to buy anything but a soft pretzel, but I looked at doll beds (my poor Samantha needs a new bed - the old baby doll bed I've used for her for years is falling apart) and gorgeous paintings. Some of them looked so much like my native Cape May at this time of year, I found myself feeling homesick.

I have fond memories of seeing painters sitting on the rocks on the end of the promenade in Cape May, on the edge of Cape May and Cape May Point. I'd pass them on my way to the Cape May Point State Park for a long walk on a nice summer day, or to gather "Cape May Diamonds," shiny pieces of quartz buffeted for years by the waves.

I spent the rest of the afternoon after I came back watching Get Smart episodes and editing the role play. I finally posted the new Monkees story and several short stories at our site - look for them tonight!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Would You Believe...Sun and Rain At the Same Time?

It was an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous day today, sunny, windy, and in the lower 80s when I got up this morning. I slept in again and headed over to the Acme for my paycheck and to run some errands in the late morning and early afternoon. I went quickly to the Audubon Post Office branch to deliver the inadvertent extra copy of Yankee Doodle Dandy that sent me to Lauren, and then went over to FYE, trying to avoid looking at the former International House of Pancakes being demolished in between. (I ate in that place about two years ago and I didn't see anything wrong with it then...) I didn't like the price of Get Smart: Season 1 at FYE, so I went to see if Wal-Mart had it. They did, and I ended up with Get Smart and some other things I really needed. I stopped at Acme for this week's grocery shopping, then headed home.

After lunch, putting the groceries away, and finishing The Pirate Movie, which I'd put on last night, I went back out again for a long bike ride. I had to go to the bank anyway, so I just continued on after I deposited my paycheck. I finally ended up in Barrington, a town a few miles away. Like Audubon, Collingswood, and Haddon Heights, it's a lovely little small town with an attractive historic district. I went to a little coffee shop for a Pumpkin smoothie and half of a chocolate-walnut blondie, then went exploring. I found this awesome, huge antique store near the White Horse Pike. Geeze, that place was a labrynth! It was an awesome one, though. It had two floors, and both floors were crammed with everything from Victorian furniture to 80s Happy Meal toys. After I finally found my way back to the first floor (the second floor being a hive of tiny, barely-move-around-in-them, jammed-to-the-gills rooms), I ended up with a Golden Book my sisters and I had when we were little, Mickey Mouse: The Kitten Sitters, and a book for a Nancy Drew-esque 30s Stratemeyer series called the Dana Girls, The Secret of One Tree Cottage.

Heavy black clouds had gathered while I was in the Antique Center, and they finally burst as I made my way home. And I mean, really burst. It poured in huge drops. I had to stop not once, but twice to avoid the squall, once under an awning at the shops on Pine Street, another time under a huge old tree between Audubon and Haddon Heights. At one point, it was even pouring and sunny at the same time! By then, I'd finally said "what the heck" and headed on my way. I made another brief stop at Doria's Deli for brown sugar (theirs is cheaper than the Acme's), and headed on my way home. (Incidentally, despite seeing more clouds, it hasn't rained again. That must have just been a freak summer shower.)

I spent the rest of the evening having tilapia for dinner and watching Get Smart. Good old Max. Somethings NEVER spy spoof still being funny. It was a bit of a surprise seeing the black and white pilot - it actually made this frequently over-the-top show seem a bit more realistic, but on the other hand, made it look a tad bland (and like other 60s shows) as well.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Summertime, and the Livin' Is Easy

I had a nice, quiet day off. I slept in this morning and worked on editing this month's Monkees Role Play. I didn't spend a lot of time in Collingswood before or after counseling. I don't have a lot of money left. I briefly visited Erica at the thrift shop and browsed the Collingswood Variety Store (which now has Toucans and Crocodiles for those of you who may be looking for those rare, just-released WebKinz). At Genesis Counseling, I mostly chatted with Scott about joining Yogawood, Mom's problems with Skylar, Dad, and Anny, and looking into library science. Scott said he mentioned my interest in library work to friend of his who are librarians, and they said it's actually fairly popular right now.

It was truly a gorgeous day, sunny, 85 degrees, and not humid at all. After my counseling session and a quick stop at the Collingswood WaWa for a treat (they have the soda fountain with the flavored syrups now), I rode home, had lunch, and went over to Uncle Ken's to do the laundry and have a swim. Uncle Ken and Dolores are home; they were resting and watching TV when I came in. Jessa was watching The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and eventually joined me in the pool after I put my laundry in the drier. The pool felt really, really good today, as warm as bath water and twice as therapeutic. I'm glad Jess joined me for once, too. We had a nice chat about the great weather we've had this summer, the upcoming Olympics, and our families. (Dad and Jodie are in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for a music festival and some Campbell's business on Jodie's part.)

I'm hoping for more days like this for the rest of the month. I'm going to do some research and see if I can find some other cheap or free things going on near-by that I can go to. There's a Craft Show and Fair in Collingswood on Saturday. I may see if I can get there after work.

Oh, and Lauren and I finished the latest Monkees Role Play tonight! It started shaky, but we really had fun with it once we figured out where the plot was going. Look for it sometime this weekend!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

As We Go Along

Spent the morning of this hot but lovely day at work. Work was on-and-off busy, nothing unusual. It rained overnight, and it was still a little bit humid when I left for work at 10:30. By 3PM, it remained hot, but the humidity was gone and there was a pleasant wind on the Black Horse Pike.

It was so nice, I decided to go for a walk and run a few errands in the neighborhood. I'm so glad I was off early today. The biggest advantage to early work is having the rest of the day to yourself. I headed down Manor Avenue and over to the White Horse Pike Family Dollar for a bag of sponges and another of pot scrubbers, both of which I can never find at the Dollar Tree for some reason. I then walked down the White Horse Pike to the CVS on the other end of Oaklyn. Eggs are cheaper there than they are anywhere else. I nearly asked the cashier if she made a mistake when they came up $1.69! (The only other places that are anywhere near as cheap are the eggs at Doria's Deli and the Acme for $2.29.) I spent the rest of the afternoon doing last month's budget and working on editing the Monkees role play.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Disney's Treasures

Speaking of animation, Disney just put this year's Walt Disney Treasures on pre-order at The final Chronological Donald set and Dr. Syn are being joined by the last and one of the most popular of the original Mickey Mouse Club serials, Annette, featuring eldest Mousketeer Annette Funicello as a country lass who moves to the city and finds adventure. (Annette would seem to be replacing the announced Destino, the Disney/Salvador Dali film - maybe that's for next year?)
Candy Sweet

Began the day at work. I had one of my two early shifts today. That's fine with me. I was in at 8:30 and out by 1:30. I don't mind working in the morning as long as I do it consistently and not TOO early...and I've pretty much just been working in the mornings and afternoons lately. (Also fine by me, but not likely to last when employees start coming back from vacation.) It was quiet when I came in, busy when I left. We did have several annoying beginning-of-the-month people, including one obnoxious old woman who fussed when she complained about the packs of Boost energy drinks she wanted being $14.97 all together...after two coupons AND I gave her the sale, even though they weren't coming up on sale! I'm sorry lady, but those stupid energy drinks are just expensive! Buy real water if you want something cheap and good for you. I was much happier helping the other employees on the early shift restock the candy bar and gum shelves on the registers.

I had a snack after I got in, changed, grabbed my books that were due, and went right back out again to return my books and do this week's library volunteering. I just organized the children's DVDs and helped kids find DVDs today. All the librarians were busy. After I finished, I renewed The Bloody Tower (which I still haven't gotten to) and took out two more books, the early 20th century-set novel The Temple of Music and another American Girls History Mystery, Mystery of the Dark Tower, set in 1928 Harlem.

I also finished off the Tiny Toons set as I ate home-made beef stir-fry for dinner. They could have done a better job with the set - it's obvious the print hasn't been cleaned up, there's one so-so featurette, and the packaging stinks...but the show is still funny if you get all of the jokes. Mom's right. Some of the "Tiny Toons" humor IS fairly adult and occasionally off-color, and there's a few episodes (like one spoofing early 90s Jazzy Prince-style rap and another about 90s fads) that haven't dated well. I also noticed something that never occurred to me as a kid. For all the hip humor, this show can be surprisingly preachy, maybe because of the intended audience. There's a couple of episodes on environmental concerns, one about two snotty rats smoking and annoying Babs, and then there's Elmyra and her her poor treatment of just about everything around her.

On the other hand, there's also some surprisingly strong character development for a kids' show. You can relate to the Tiny Toons in ways you weren't able to relate to the original Looney Tunes or the stars of the next big WB show, Animaniacs. They may be tiny, toony, and more than a little loony, but even after 35 episodes, you really get to feel that they're friends. They even occasionally give villains Elmyra and (more rarely) Montana Max a little sympathy.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Trying to Balance

I started off the day and the week with a Vinyasa class at Yogawood. Things went much better today than they did the last time I went to Yogawood on a Monday. Maybe it had to do with my good mood coming off of a busy weekend, or maybe it was due to there being more beginners in the very full class. (I wasn't the only one who couldn't do the standing balance poses this time, and I saw people struggle with other moves, too.) This time, I left class feeling light-hearted and glad that I'd tried something new. So my balance isn't terrific. I'm good at other poses. I can lift my legs and down a downward dog (lean on your hands and toes and lift your back and buttocks) like nobody's business.

I got in with enough time to have lunch, change, and head to work. Work was on-and-off busy today, pretty much the same as yesterday, with no problems other than some mildly annoying customers - you really can't avoid those during the beginning of the month rush.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Talkin' 'Bout Friends

I didn't work until 12:30 today, so I was able to sleep in for once on a Sunday. I had blueberry pancakes for breakfast and talked to Mom. Same old down there. Dad and Anny had to have a birthday party for Skylar, despite Mom claiming they weren't going to have a birthday party for Skylar this year. They had it at Mom and Dad's house this year and left a mess.

Work was on-and-off busy today, not as much as yesterday. This was a bit of a surprise. Sunday is usually one of our busiest days of the week, especially at the beginning of the month! I guess everyone's still on vacation.

I went out to dinner with my friend Erica afterwards. We just went to the Oaklyn Manor Bar down the street. She had original suggested the TapRoom Bar and Grill, but the Manor is closer and cheaper. I haven't seen her in a while. She often works at the Thrift Shop when I'm at work these days! We chatted. She caught me calling myself stupid again. I just can't help it. It's a bad habit. Sometimes I feel so embarrassed and dumb when I do silly things, I just panic, even around people I know don't think I'm dumb. I wonder if I could catch her for a movie again. We haven't gone to see one together in a while.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

In the Swim

It was raining when I got up this morning, but that passed quick enough that I was able to make it to the Farm Market for the first time in two weeks. (And the last time for the next two weeks - I work too early to make it next Saturday.) I might have skipped it if I hadn't needed so much. I bought bread, blueberries, peaches, green leaf lettuce, leeks, carrots, celery, mushrooms, a red onion, fresh Colby cheese from a dairy booth, and the first New Jersey blackberries of the season. I then raced home, put everything away, threw together lunch, changed, and went to work.

(It's probably just as well that I only saw one yard sale today on the way to work and there wasn't anything interesting at it. I didn't really have the time.)

Work was busy, probably due to it being the beginning of the month, but we had plenty of help, my relief was on time, and there were no problems.

Jodie came through my line while I was at work and invited me over to Dad's for a small family barbecue. I'd wanted a swim anyway, so I accepted her invitation. After slicing the carrots into sticks and watching a few episodes of Tiny Toons, I changed into my bathing suit and walked over. Our cousin Jim and his son C.J were already there, keeping an eye on C.J as he practiced his favorite pastime - golf! He doesn't have a bad swing for a just-two-year-old.

I was the only one in the pool today, though Jessa sat on the side and chatted with me for a while. I don't know why. The pool was a little bit cooler than the last time I went in, but it still felt great, especially since today wasn't quite as hot but still really humid. It was cloudy on and off all day and actually rained a little bit while I was in the pool, but hasn't rained since then, as far as I know.

Jodie got the grill going and cooked up steak, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, corn on the cob, cucumber salad, and baked beans for all of us and two friends of Jodie's and Dad's. We ate and watched the Pixar film Cars with C.J. (Apparently, cars are his other obsession.)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Big Girl Adventures

Got up late and spent the early afternoon running errands. I rode to work and got my paycheck, then went to FYE and bought the just-released Tiny Toon Adventures Season 1 Volume 1 and headed down the Black Horse Pike. On the way to the Mt. Ephram Walgreens, I discovered there was a PNC Bank branch on the Black Horse Pike just a few blocks down from the Acme and deposited my paycheck. I finally found the other two WCares WebKinz of the Month at Walgreens, the Lil'Kinz Horse and the Lil'Kinz St. Bernard. I got the Horse for myself and bought the St. Bernard as a thank-you gift for Lauren when I visit her in September. I went for a brief ride through Mt. Ephram before heading back to the Acme for the few groceries I needed, then home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Tiny Toon Adventures. For those who weren't around in the early 90s, Tiny Toons was Warner Bros.' answer to the syndicated Disney Afternoon cartoons...but far hipper. Rather than being "babyfied" versions of classic characters, the Tiny Toons are essentially pre-teen versions. Bugs, in fact, technically gets two characters, laid-back Buster and mile-a-minute-impressionist Babs Bunny (no relation). We also have Elmyra Duff (who literally loves her cutie-pie buddies to pieces), Fifi the Lavender Skunk, Sweetie Pie, Shirley McLoon the new-age psychic, hapless Furball, bratty rich boy Montana Max, Hampton Pig, and my personal favorite, eternally mercenary Plucky Duck. Like the later Freakazoid! and Animaniacs, the show is a potpourri of 90s spoofs and manic comedy, with some of the best writing ever in any animated program. Any cartoon whose second episode is a bang-on spoof of Star Wars heroics (Spielburg taking a jab at his buddy George Lucas?) will get my attention.

I did end up going to the ball game tonight. I joined Dad, Jodie, Jessa, and Jessa's friends Alexis and Brittany at Campbell's Stadium for a Camden Riversharks game. The game wasn't very good or very full (the Riversharks were just starting to catch up when we left), but it was still worth the trip. The team may be terrible, but Campbell's Stadium is a beaut. It's on the Camden Waterfront and has a stunning view of the Philadelphia skyline. (You should have seen it as the sun was going down.) I spent a few innings just strolling along the second level, watching the people and the game, admiring the skyline, and checking out the merry-go-round and the souvenir shop. I didn't buy any actual souvenirs (as with most athletic venues, they were overpriced, and I'm saving for my vacation), but I did do one of those pressed-penny machines.

When I wasn't strolling, I was sitting in the Executive Box, having dinner or chatting with Dad and watching the game just outside the box. The night was a Campbell's outing for employees and families. There was a small buffet of barbecue foods - chicken, ribs, roast beef, corn bread, baked beans, cole slaw, and watermelon. The girls spent the night chatting and playing with a kid who brought his Pokemon card collection. Jodie mostly talked to her fellow employees and played with their kids.

We had a bit of a scare going home. Despite the map system in the van Dad borrowed from Uncle Ken for tonight, Jodie and Dad got lost going home. Jodie wanted to use the way she takes home from work; Dad wanted to go a different route. They weren't lost for too long, but it was a little scary, given Camden's reputation as one of the nastiest cities in the US.

Oh, and meet Ramses the Lil'Kinz Horse! Named for the son of Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson in Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series, this talkative, taciturn little fellow lives with his mama and papa Amelia the Brown Arabian and Emerson the Gray Arabian in their Explorer's Room, which will be made up of parts of different Curio Shop ancient world themes when I finally buy them.