Friday, October 31, 2008

The Scariest Thing About Halloween? Baseball Fans

First of all, Happy Halloween! I hope everyone got lots of pumpkin treats and trick-or-treaters at their door.

This Halloween was a pain in the rear end. I'd just gotten up and was getting dressed around quarter after 8AM when Donna, the head front end manager, called. Could I come in as soon as possible? A cashier called out. I wasn't able to get in until around 11. I had to eat breakfast and get my Halloween costume together. I did manage to get Garfield's Halloween Adventure, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and two Monkees horror-oriented episodes, "I Was a Teenage Monster" from the first season and "Monstrous Monkee Mash" from the middle of the second.

I found out why I was called in when I arrived in my wings and flowered wreaths and wand. It was unusually busy for Halloween, with long lines. It seems Philadelphia held a parade to honor the Phillies today...and they couldn't have picked a worse possible day to do it. Kids were out of school (even here in South Jersey), adults called out of work en masse, and two million people were projected to try to make it into Center City. That's where that errant cashier (and many other Acme employees) ended up - the parade. Parades are nice, but making a good paycheck is nicer...and a lot more important when your rent is due.

At least the weather was gorgeous. It was sunny, windless, and warmer than it has been, but not too much for this time of year. As Matt at X-Entertainment mentioned at his annual Halloween Countdown, it even looks like Halloween. The trees are turning lovely colors, all golds and reds and oranges, and they crunch so nicely. Maybe that's why, even after the parade ended, the Acme cleared out and was more like it's usual dead-as-a-doornail Halloween calm.

Most of the adults who worked in the morning didn't dress up, but I saw more costumes as the day went on. There was a college girl in a gorgeous pirate costume (including one heck of a hat), a teenage witch, a dancer, several baseball players (surprise, surprise), a samurai, a black cat, a Scotsman (complete with kilt), and a teenage boy in drag. (Said he lost a bet, poor kid.) We gave out a little candy, but the Audubon Acme is on the busy corner of Nicholson and the Black Horse Pike, where mose kids can't (and shouldn't) cross.

(Note to self: try to get an actual costume together next year. My flower fairy get-up got a lot of snide jokes from older men who thought I was a "Hawaiian Angel" or something. Do it earlier than a week before Halloween, too.)

I got off in time for the tail-half of trick-or-treating. I saw lots of kids on Kendall Boulevard alone roaming up and down streets. Some little ones were with their parents. Older kids were with their siblings or in groups. Teenagers, some in costume, some not bothering, were also roaming in packs.

As I mentioned last year, I was never terribly fond of trick-or-treating. It seemed kind of pointless to me. I've always loved dressing up, though. That's really what I love most about Halloween - getting to dress up and show off my costume and have fun. Of course, when my sisters and I were young, we always had well-made costumes. No dollar-store plastic masks and smocks for us! Mom's a master seamstress and has made our costumes (and "dress-ups") for as long as I can remember.

The earliest Halloween costume I remember was my Disney Fairy Godmother outfit. I had a blue dress and a dark blue cape. We had that dark blue cape for years in the dress-up basket. I couldn't have been any more than three or four. There's a cute picture from about when I'm in first grade of us three girls in our Halloween costumes. Rose is a witch in an old wig spray-painted purple, a long home-made black dress with gold ribbon trim, and a real broom. I'm a queen in a purple gown from some Cape May Stage production Mom did the costumes for, a spray-painted cardboard crown, and a "scepter" made of a craft-store wooden ball and dowel. Anny, barely a year old, is a totally adorable Little Red Riding Hood in a little home-made red felt cape, a pale blue dress, and a blue-and-white striped apron.

Mom has another great picture of home-made costumes from when Rose and I were just starting high school. I was beginning my great obsession with mysteries and old movies and had elected to be a film noir private eye. I wore Mom's black fedora leftover from her Annie Hall phase in the late 70s, Mom's best black tie, old leather shoes, my own white shirt and black jeans, and a cap gun and handcuffs taken from a dollar-store police officer set. Rose, on the other hand, had just gotten into HER great obsession - fantasy novels. She dressed as a "Sun Goddess" in a white gown with gold trim that Mom made, sheer stockings, white heels, a gold spray-painted wire crown, and glittering suns on her cheeks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween On Parade

I slept in this morning and didn't get to the library for volunteering until around noon. It was a lovely day for a ride, blue and gold, still cold and a little windy, but nothing like yesterday or the last few days. The library was stone-quiet, not surprising on a gorgeous day before a holiday. I did the children's DVDs and put the adult DVDs away. I stopped at Super Fresh for Total cereal, then took a peek at Dollar Tree and Halloween Adventure for a last bit of Halloween atmosphere. Super Fresh had, in fact, cleared out its Halloween section already. Dollar Tree's had Christmas items out since September, though it still had a fairly substantial Halloween section.

I browsed quickly through Halloween Adventure before heading home. This is the local "Halloween Costume Superstore" that pops up in empty storefronts across the country between September and early November. I was hoping to find a halo. I did, but even at half-off, I didn't have enough money for it. The problem with most adult women's Halloween costumes is they assume any woman over the age of 12 wants to wear as little as possible for Halloween. Not only is that impractical in cold weather (and with my figure), but I'm just not that way. Not every adult woman wants to trip around in brief skirts and mile-high heels.

I spent what was left of the afternoon at home, watching Strawberry Shortcake DVDs and Mad Monster Party?, the latter as I prepared for Oaklyn's Halloween Parade. I created a "flower fairy" costume with the wings and wand from the Angel costume I bought two years ago, the leis leftover from a hula dancer costume from about five years ago, the peach ruffled skirt and white embroidered shirt I bought last spring, my summer shoes, and stockings. I still had glitter body makeup leftover from the angel costume two years ago that I put on my face and hands.

As it turned out, I was the only adult who entered the parade in costume. The parade is a far less organized affair than the huge one in Cape May. I ran into Uncle Ken and Jessa as they were heading over to the Fire Hall on West Clinton Avenue where the parade began. Jessa wasn't dressed, but she'd been recruited to give out numbers to the kids. I helped her, too. No one registered. There were no floats or marching bands, just kids in costume and their parents and fire trucks.

The kids were terrific. There were superheroes, Optimus Prime and Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk and an Adam West-era Batman in plastic masks. There was a Wizard of Oz crew, an adorable toddler Dorothy and Cowardly Lion and their older Tin Woodsman and Glinda siblings. A family of boys were dressed as soldiers. An authentic cowboy rode around in a cute "chuck wagon" of cardboard and a Little Red Wagon. There was a third group dressed as Disney characters - I especially liked Donald Duck. There were two firemen, Elmo, a very enthusiastic and noisy female Mad Scientist, a girl football player, a hippie in a tie-dyed t-shirt and huge Afro (he looked like a little second-season Micky Dolenz), a mini Medieval maiden, a "dead" cheerleader, Jack Sparrow, a girl pirate, High School Musical dancers, a ghostly prom queen, and some very scary monsters in freaky dollar-store masks and well-dyed "rags."

The whole group (including Jessa and me) marched raggedly down West Clinton Avenue, from the Fire Hall to the Oaklyn Public (Elementary and Middle) School. Despite my cousin Blake's complaints, it was really only a few blocks and took less than ten minutes, nothing like the trek from the Gazebo behind the Washington Street Mall to the Physick Estate the Cape May Halloween Parade does. After everyone arrived at the School, we proceeded to the auditorium, where each age group (and me) paraded for the judges, Samantha, Dolores, and another mother. I met the rest of Samantha's family there. David and I took pictures of adorable Faith, dressed as a cute little Cinderella, and her brothers Matt (the modern, "Dark Knight" Batman) and Ethan (a ghost), while the kids walked around the stage for the judges. I joined the "12 and Up" group. I didn't win (Faith and her brothers did), but that wasn't really the point anyway. I just wanted to dress up for something and do something in costume besides stand around at work. The Cape May Halloween Parade was always the highlight of the Halloween season for me.

I did get something out of it, though. All the participants received a bag of candy and small items (a key clip, a small box of crayons, a pen) from Commerce Bank. There were a lot of bags leftover, so I ended up with three. Since I probably won't be getting candy tomorrow, the candy and little items are almost as good as the 5 dollars most of the kids won.

(Incidentally, I do intend to dress up for work tomorrow, at least in the leis, wand, wings, and makeup. I'm just going to wear my regular work pants and sneakers for the bottom half. Those white shoes and the skirt wouldn't be all that comfortable for work, and I certainly couldn't ride to work in them.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We are the Champions

First of all...Yay! The Philadelphia Phillies FINALLY won their first World Series title since 1980 tonight! I knew SOMETHING was up when I heard fireworks and booms and pops in the direction of South Philly. Shame the trees haven't shed enough leaves yet for me to see the fireworks...

Other than that, this was a very quiet day. I had fairly early work at 11AM. Work was on-and-off busy, no major problems. I got in quickly, despite the wind, and my relief was on time. I had a really nice ride to and from work, too. Windy days sure work your cardiovascular system! It was windy, partly cloudy, and still cold, but neither were as bad as yesterday.

I was going to clean the bathroom when I got home, but by the time I got in, changed, and took out the trash, it was really too late to drag out all the cleaning items. I ended up baking Ginger Cookies instead. I needed to refill my cookie jar.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Autumn Atmosphere

The rain that started yesterday evening (and made my ride home so cold) continued this morning. I needed milk anyway, so I went for a walk to WaWa this morning after sleeping in just to see how bad it was. When I got home, I was wet, cold, and windblown. It wasn't snowing, but it was raining hard and colder than it should have been for this time of year. I love the fall myself, but it felt more like Mother Nature decided to skip straight to Christmas!

Needless to say, I didn't ride my bike to work this afternoon. Even the Phillies weren't crazy enough to play today, World Series or no friggin' World Series. Work was surprisingly steady, given the weather conditions and the fact that this is the end of the month. Dolores drove me to work. Uncle Ken drove me home. By the time I got out (on time - no relief and it was dying quickly in there anyway), the rain had stopped but the wind was still crazy. Supposedly, we're only going to get a few quick showers tomorrow. It had better be while I'm in work. Uncle Ken and Dolores have doctor's appointments and can't drive me tomorrow, and Dad's out of town. I hate needing rides anyway. It makes me feel like a baby, even though people say they don't mind doing it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Balancing Rain and Shine

I awoke to a lovely morning. The sun was shining, and though it was windy, it was neither too hot nor too cold for the time of year. I was a bit surprised at the lack of people at Yogawood. The 9:30 class wasn't nearly as full as last week's, just six women, one man, and the teacher Jill. Perhaps all those mothers are getting their children ready for Halloween.

I wish I were doing better with Yoga. I keep trying as much as I can, but I'm just not in the same place most of the other students are. I still can't really do handstands, and my balance is just awful. I can't stand on one foot for more than a few seconds. I do keep trying, and I do intend to continue the classes for as long as I can. I just wish it wasn't so obvious that I'm a novice. Maybe I'd feel more like I fit in.

I stopped at the thrift shop after class to say "hi" to Erica and to drop off a bunch of videos and cassettes that I was donating along with the CDs that FYE didn't want. The store was very busy. Probably a lot of people looking around for Halloween costumes, for themselves or others.

I went straight home after that, grabbed my laundry, and went over to Uncle Ken's to do this week's load. That mostly went well. Uncle Ken and Dolores was home. They were doing laundry, but not until a bit later. I ran the DVD and videos I took out of the Oaklyn Library back and bought deli ham while the laundry was in the dryer. I spent the rest of the afternoon after that working on editing some of our remaining role-play short stories.

Today was my late work shift. It was steady early on, dead by the time I got out. I didn't realize why it was so dead until I rolled out of the store and felt cold raindrops on my nose. I saw heavy clouds on the horizon as I rode to work this afternoon, but I thought nothing of it until I found myself riding home in a freezing shower. I probably should have called Dolores or Uncle Ken, but it wasn't raining that hard when I went home, and anyway it's a pain in the rear end to wait around for them. I did manage to get home before the rain got much worse. It's pouring as I write this. It's raining so hard, tonight's World Series game ended prematurely and will supposedly finish tomorrow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Take a Giant - and an Eagle - Step

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for sports fans. I started off the morning just hanging around at home. I tried calling Mom, but she said quickly that she'd call me back. Work was on-and-off steady, no real major problems other than the usual listening to people whine about their jobs, their children, and their significant others. Must be nice to have good jobs, children, friends, and significant others to whine about. I always end up listening to my customers complain about their lives...but most of the time, I can't relate. I don't have children. I'm not married, and I haven't dated in almost five years. I have a part-time job I'm not all that fond of, though I do like my co-workers. No one brings candy in the back room unless there's a party going on. My boss is cool. Sometimes, I feel so out of the loop, I might as well be made of stone.

I didn't feel much better after work. I tried to sell two DVDs and two CDs at the FYE behind the Acme, but was only able to sell one DVD for a dollar. They said they were "overstocked" on the other DVD and just plain didn't want the CDs. I don't understand why. That's a good-sized and very popular FYE with plenty of storage room. I can kind of understand the CDs, but they should have been able to take both DVDs. I really do want to get rid of them, so I'll just give them to Erica at the thrift shop tomorrow.

Going over to Uncle Ken's cheered me up enormously. I wasn't going to go originally, since the Eagles game would have been over by then, but I needed to be around people who weren't going to whine about their lives. I'm very glad I did go over there. I had pizza, pound cake, cupcakes, and "hoagie soup" (beef broth, noodles, tomatoes, onion, Italian salami slices) while chatting with Uncle Ken, Dolores, his daughter Samantha, her husband Dave, and Dad's girlfriend Jodie. Chasing Sam and Dave's kids Ethan, Matt, and Faith was fun, too. Jodie told me Dad's out working, taking a cruise ship from Rhode Island down to Florida, and will be gone for three weeks.

This must be a good time for sailors to be out to sea. When I finally got a hold of Mom this evening after getting home from Uncle Ken's, she said that my stepdad's out fishing, too. She was just resting after working on a knitting project for a neighbor's son. Keefe was at the neighbor's house, so she was spending some rare time with the football games to herself. As far as I can tell, she's quite happy. She got to see my little nephew do "Trick or Treat" at Cape May's Washington Street Mall last week.

Oh, and Philly sports fans can rejoice tonight. The Eagles came out of their week off with flags flying and walloped the Atlanta Falcons 27-14, and at press time, the Philadelphia Phillies are winning game 4 of the World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2.

(And sorry Mom, but the Giants did beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-14.)

Oh, and I dug around in my bag of costume odds and ends and decided what I'm going to be for Halloween this year. I shall be a "flower fairy" in my white angel wings and wand from two years ago and a bunch of flowered headbands and armbands leftover from a hula dancer costume I did quite a while ago. I debated being an angel again, but I couldn't find the halo anywhere. I must have gotten rid of it. I'll wear my good white shoes and white Swiss lace shirt and may dig out the peach skirt I bought last summer. I'll wear a turtleneck under the shirt if I'm cold. Uncle Ken and Samantha invited me to Oaklyn's Halloween Parade on Thursday night. It sounds like a lot of fun! That's my only day off this week, so I'll definitely try to make it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weather Only Fit for Ducks and Baseball Fans

I woke up late and barely made it to work on time, ignoring a light rain that barely dampened my pants. Work was busy today, not really crazy but steady. I got in and out with no problems and my relief was on time. After I got in, I went right back out again to run to CVS to get eggs. Though the rain was still only light as I rode home, it picked up when I went out, and was on-and-off for the rest of the evening.

I stopped briefly at Uncle Ken's and got to chat with his girlfriend Dolores. Uncle Ken is going in for treatments for a bump on his neck (I forget what she said it is), so this weekend will be his last football party for a while. Alas, I won't be there. Unless the game's bumped, the Eagles-Falcons game is at 1PM tomorrow and I work noon to 4.

Speaking of Philly sports, the only people crazy enough to be out there tonight were fowls and people catching foul balls. It continued to rain on-and-off, sometimes heavily, until about an hour ago. It's been insanely windy, too. The weather did delay the World Series, but it went on and the Phillies are winning 1-0 at press time.

Oh, and I'm going to be posting a whole bunch of short stories Lauren and I have written in the past few weeks at our Monkees role-play site as soon as I finish here, including several Halloween stories and a few pertinent to the main spring stories. I hope you enjoy them. This will be the last batch for a while. Lauren and I start our extra-long NaNoWrite story soon, and it's likely there won't be anything else posted until around Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Chic Chickadee

Spent most of the morning in bed! I was up late last night and didn't get up until quarter after 10. By the time I'd written in my journal, gotten dressed, and had breakfast, it was almost noon. I headed over to the Acme to pick up my paycheck. Went to Wal-Mart. Wanted to get a bra but didn't see any my size that I liked. (Do they all have to be padded? It's not like I need the padding!) They didn't have any halos for angel costumes, either, just scary stuff. I'd do a scary costume, but I don't want to do elaborate face make-up...and my round face and figure just weren't meant to frighten people. My teddy bears are scarier than I am. Besides, I still have those white wings leftover from my fairy costume two years ago. I just ended up with brushes for between the teeth and the Rankin-Bass movie Mad Monster Party?. I made a quick stop at FYE to see if they had the black cat (nope), then went to the Acme to do my grocery shopping and headed home.

After I put everything away and had a quick cereal lunch, I went back out again. Since I had to go to the bank anyway, I kept going and headed for Willie the Woodsman's, the small gift shop in Audubon that carries WebKinz. They also didn't have the Black Cat, but they did have another WebKinz I was looking for, the Chickadee. I got my first Lil'Kinz flying pet and a Pumpkin outfit for my bat Boo. I don't normally buy the clothes for the real stuffed animals. It's one thing to do it for onscreen animals you're playing with, but it seems silly and pointless for the real ones. Boo's supposed to be a decoration, though, and I thought it would look festive.

I stopped by Abbie Road and said "hi" to Bob on the way back. He works a second job at the Acme in Runnemede, but it doesn't sound like he will for much longer. The night crew apparently lost so many hours, most are quitting. I did finally buy a used Fleetwood Mac CD that has my favorite of their songs on it, "Seven Wonders." I also picked up some pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies at Desserts By Design.

I watched Mad Monster Party? after I got home. Boy, what a weird trip THAT was. It was almost as mind-blowing as Vertigo yesterday, but in a totally different way. That was artsy. This was just plain bizarre. Baron Von Frankenstein (voice - and the likeness - of Boris Karloff) wants to retire and intends to leave all his secrets, including his newest one, to his nephew Felix. Trouble is, Felix is not only a mega-nerd, but a human one as well, which doesn't sit well with his hot assistant Francesca or any of the other monsters gathered for a convention. Francesca and the monsters try their best to get Felix off the island and the Baron to change his mind.

When Phyllis Diller (as the Bride of Frankenstein) is the least strange thing on the screen, you KNOW a movie's weird. Apparently, the movie was one of three Rankin-Bass features released in the mid-60s after the success of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. None of them ever really made it past kiddie matinees and fell out of sight all together before they were finally released on video a few years ago. As the only even remotely Halloween-tinged Rankin-Bass project, this one's a lot of fun. Karloff is a wonderful warm and yet creepy Baron, and singer Gale Bennett is fine as the scheming Francesca. You can tell this was intended for the big screen - the sets, choreography, and animation is more elaborate than the holiday specials, there's more special effects, and the color's eye-popping. The horror icons who turn up are a lot of fun too, ranging from the browbeaten Frankenstein's monster to the odd Peter Lorre-like zombie. Weird, but recommended for people who prefer their Halloween scares more comic and less gruesome or for those of you who want to explore the less cutesy side of Rankin-Bass.

Oh, and meet Chicka, my chic little chickadee! I built two rooms with the money she came with, an airy room for her (complete with the POTM cloud machine), and a small bathroom with the last of the Halloween items. I also got to buy Chicka a cute little blouse with a butterfly on it from the KinzStyle bag.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Last Time I Felt Like This

Began the morning by getting my finances in order, such as they are. I don't have much money in the bank right now. After I did that and put out my bills, I was able to get to the library after skipping it last week. The kids' storybook hour had just finished and everyone was busy, so I just did the children's DVDs and helped kids find titles. I eventually took out two October issues of Walt Disney Comics and Stories, the newest Backyardigans DVD, and the new Maisie Dobbs novel.

It was a lovely day again, sunny and chilly but this time windless. I took the long way home across Newton River Park, going straight home this time. I didn't have the money to stop anywhere. When I got home, I put my books upstairs and went back downstairs to take my recycling out. I took advantage of the lack of wind to rake the side path leading to my apartment and sweep my porch, both of which were heavily laden with golden and copper-colored leaves. I wanted to do the side path last Thursday, but I ran out of time before work. I'd had enough of tripping over those three little stumps near the side of the house.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on a loaf of English Wholemeal Bread from my English baking cookbook, doing stuff online, and watching DVDs. I ran The Backyardigans while working on the bread and making Lemon Chicken with Curried Rice for dinner. That show is just so unbelievably creative. I can't believe the stuff they come up with. One episode had Tyrone and Pablo as a weatherman and an athlete in ancient Greece who go up to Mt. Olympus to ask God Austin and Goddesses Uniqua and Austin to stop raining on their basketball game, to the tune of samba music. Another has intergalactic travelers Zuniqua and Zablo working on Cowgirl Tasha's ranch to earn the fuel for their ship - blueberry pancakes! The cutest was their underwater take on National Velvet. Uniqua wants to race Tyrone on her little wild dolphin, but Tyrone doesn't think she has what it takes to beat a champion. Will her new friend's fear of clams upset their chances?

I enjoyed Vertigo during and after dinner. Whew, was that a mind-blower or what? Alfred Hitchcock was the master of messing with the mind, and I thought this would be a better (and less messy) place for me to start than Psycho or The Birds. Besides, who doesn't love James Stewart? I figured out something of what was going on about half-way through, but the ending was still amazing. Great imagery, too, especially Stewart's nutty animated/effects dream.

And...ergh. My tooth hurts again. I'm going to take some aspirin and swish with salt water after I get off here, but I wish it would stop doing this occasionally, so I could actually chew on my right side? :p

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series

Today begins the World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies, the first time the Phils have made it to the championship since 1993. The Acme held a small party in the back room in the Phillies' honor. There was a pizza-pan-sized chocolate cookie with fudge icing, two pans of brownies (I didn't finish the one I had - it was burnt and hard around the edges), Patrice the Stock Manager's sponge cake with cherry Jello swirl and Cool Whip icing, and a huge bowl of "pretzel chips," thin, crispy, twice-baked pretzels donated by the deli. It was a lot of fun, and I had a great time chatting with my fellow employees. Probably helped that the store was steady-to-dead today, with no major customer problems and no problems coming in or getting out. (In stark contrast to yesterday, my relief was early.)

It was a nice day, still very windy but not too cold, about what it should be this time of year. I dropped my lunch bag in the kitchen when I got home and went right back out again for a walk down the White Horse Pike. I stopped at the Oaklyn Library on the way home and rented two Winnie the Pooh Halloween specials and the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo. (Actually, one is a prime-time Pooh special, Boo To You Too!. The other is three spooky-oriented episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh collected under the title of the first one, Frankenpooh.)

I watched the Pooh special and a Disney movie I picked up from a yard sale, An Extremely Goofy Movie, during dinner. A direct-to-video follow up to the Disney Afternoon cartoon Goof Troop and it's theatrical spin-off A Goofy Movie, this is the surprisingly sweet tale of Goofy's attempt to stick with his son Max after he goes to college. Goofy apparently hasn't been on a college campus since the seventies, which leads to some hilarious moments (check out Goofy with that mile-high afro!) and a disco-heavy soundtrack. (Loved the cute version of "Right Back To Where We Started From" over the end credits.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Rather Blustery Day

The wind, which had subsided yesterday, returned with a vengeance today. It rained a little as I worked on editing a few role-play stories this morning, but by the time I decided to go to Veteran's Park next-door for a walk, it was merely cloudy. I had a really nice walk, though. The sun peeked through the clouds long enough for me to take a couple of great pictures of the park. I walked around to the edge of the cliffside, then back around to Miss Ellie's house, picking my way over to her yard. I put my camera back at the house, then completed my walk with a quick jaunt down to West Clinton Avenue and back around to Manor. I had lunch, then threw together a snack and headed to work.

Work was quiet earlier on, but the rush hour crowd was a pain. We had one woman who wanted the 12 for $5 canned vegetable sale that ended yesterday. She had found one little sign left in the of course, after much fuss, we had to give it to her. And then, it turned out that she'd bought the wrong damn vegetables to begin with!

I don't know why anyone would want to eat canned vegetables anyway, especially the peas that were one of the three options for that sale! I can understand corn and green beans a little. Both are fine if you use them in soups or casseroles. But canned peas are tasteless green mush. And don't get me started on canned carrots! That's why the only canned vegetable I'll eat is tomatoes. Canned diced tomatoes are great in chili and makes excellent marinade with oil, but most canned vegetables are just gross.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keeping Things Balanced

This morning was this week's Yogawood class. It was the fullest class I'd seen in a while, with at least fifteen women or more, not counting the teacher, Jill. It was a good, solid class. I tried the "crow" pose, which requires a lot of squatting and leaning on one's hands to lift one's squatted knees and rear end. Needless to say, I didn't get very far, but I tried.

I went straight home after class and did the laundry. Unlike last week, the laundry went just fine. Dad was the only one home, no one else was doing laundry, and the dryer behaved. Dad received an American Girls catalog that he let me keep. I haven't seen one of those in years, since Mom stopped getting them in the late 90s. It confirmed that yes, they're retiring Samantha after the holiday season. I know Linda's right and they're probably hoping to triple the value on Sam's collection, but I'm also hoping this means we'll get a new Victorian-era American Girl. I agree with Linda. I'd love to see a Jewish tenement-dweller, or the spirited daughter of a suffragette, or maybe go a decade or so ahead and see a Miranda and the Movies-style child star on the stage...and in that daring new medium of motion pictures.

Ran errands while the laundry was in the dryer. It was a wonderful day for a walk, sunny but not windy like over the weekend and in the lower 60s, just right for this time of the year. The air really smells like fall now, spicy and smoky and crisp. I went in one direction down the White Horse Pike to the CVS on the border of Collingswood and Oaklyn and bought Herbal Essences shampoo, then went in the other direction towards Audubon and bought the cheaper milk from WaWa and a little Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino. I dropped the shampoo and the milk off at my apartment, then went back to Dad's for my laundry, which came out just fine. (I didn't have nearly as much laundry to do this week, either.)

I spent the remaining afternoon working on my DVD inventory. Work was on-and-off steady, with a few cranky customers (and one elderly couple whose bickering just ended up confusing me and messing up their order), but otherwise no problems. I had no relief and was in and out without a fuss. The ride home was in the dark, but it was nice anyway. The air had that crisp, clear scent night air gets in the fall and winter, and the night sky was velvety navy, with barely a moon to keep it from falling to the earth.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Emma and the Blustery Day

I spent a rather relaxing day mostly at home. I only worked for four hours, and other than my relief was late, it was busy all day and there were no problems. I don't often get to spend most of the day at home. It was kinda nice. Today was sunny, but still windy and, though less cold than yesterday, pretty chilly. I baked a loaf of Whole Wheat Pear Bread that came out very well and watched The Black Cauldron, Disney's adaptation of the Chronicles of Prydain series of fantasy novels.

I called my family in Erma this morning; got my brother Keefe. He was on his way out with Dad to buy some black shades for his costume. He's in Lower Cape May Regional High School's band, and they play in Cape May's Halloween Parade every year. This year, he and a buddy were being the Blues Brothers (which I thought was brilliant). I called Mom later. She said he had a good time, even though his drum broke and he had to share with the other drummer. Keefe's not the kind of kid who minds doing stuff like that. :)
Darn It!

American Girls is retiring Samantha, the one doll I have. Now I'll never be able to get more clothes for her!

American Girls

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ponies and Muppets and Childhood Memories

Today was Farm Market Day. I bought those lovely mini MacIntosh apples, pears, carrots, radishes, and a medium-sized pumpkin for Halloween and Thanksgiving at my apartment. I'd never be able to get a big one home on my bike, and I don't carve them, anyway. Besides, my porch faces the river side of the house. It's a lovely view when the leaves are gone, but until the leaves ARE gone, no one can see my place...and even then, the only ones who could really see it are my neighbors on my right. There's only the park to my right, and the people across the river are too far away.

It was nice to be able to just ride around and check out yard sales today. It was nice weather for it, too, windy and chilly but soooo very fall, with that lovely wood-burning scent in the air. There were tons of yard sales today. Most of them were disappointments. I went back to the place I found the genuine 50s and 60s dolls and toys at, the one I got my cool 60s mohair bear from in the spring. I saw a mechanical teddy bear that moved and made sounds like the panda I found in front of the thrift shop two years ago, but he was too big to carry on my bike, so I moved on.

I rode around for almost an hour looking for yard sales. There were three or four in Oaklyn alone today. I went behind the school, near a park and playground, and found Maple Street, where I made my best (and only) find of the day. They had a table filled with kids' videos from the 80s. Among the familiar Winnie the Pooh, Disney Sing-Alongs, and Christmas specials were four that stood out. I'd never heard of, much less seen, the 1974 special Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus, though I'm quite familiar with the story of the little girl and the newspaper man who convinced her - and all of New York - that Santa and the Christmas spirit exists. They also had the two remaining mid-90s Muppet Babies videos I didn't have.

My favorite find was a true piece of 80s culture. The My Little Pony toy line made its animated debut in a half-hour special in 1984. Though it starts cute, with frolicking pastel-colored horses, pegasus, and unicorns, it quickly becomes much darker than most people today would anticipate. This is surprisingly dark and disturbing for what's supposed to be a cartoon for little girls. Four of the ponies are captured by a strange lion-like monster and are turned into dragons by a demon. There's a surreal Busby Berkley-esque "dance" number by the Sea Ponies about midway through that really has nothing to do with anything.

It's that darkness, though, that makes this one of the best of the Little Pony cartoons. The villains here are far more menacing than in most girls' shows of this type, and the songs actually aren't that bad (including that crazy Sea Horse song). Tony Randall plays Mr. Muchick, the forgetful elf-like wizard who provides the MacGuffin that saves the day. I think Sandy Duncan was Firefly.

Originally titled Firefly's Adventure on video and renamed Nightmare In Dark Castle when it was shown as part of My Little Pony and Friends in the late 80s, the full version has never been on DVD and costs as much as $20 on eBay and The video is in lousy shape, but it runs, and a dollar sure beats $20 with shipping. There was a second Pony special a year later, Escape From Katrina, that I remember being just as good and is also hard to find in full on video.

After all that, the rest of the day was comparatively quiet. I watched Firefly's Adventure and the Muppets until it was time to go to work. Work was busy today, mostly due to a lack of help and to it simply being a lovely weekend, but I was able to get in and out with no problem, and other than a few mildly cranky customers, my day went quickly.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Is In the Air

Brr! I awoke to a lovely, sunny, chilly morning. I went to the Acme to get my paycheck in a heavy sweater and t-shirt, but switched to my light winter coat after I got home because it was just that cold. It was still windy, too, and the air had that great wood-burning scent it gets in the fall and winter. I went right back out again after putting away whole wheat flour, yogurt, small beef round steaks, ground chicken, and granola bars.

After everything was where it belonged, I went right back out again. My first stop was the PNC Bank branch on the White Horse Pike down the street from me. On my way up the hill on West Clinton Avenue, I scraped the back of my foot on my heavy metal bike pedal. When I made it across the street, I put my foot on a low ledge and checked it. It had bled through the sock, but I wear cuffed socks and the small spot didn't show. I slapped a band aid on it. I always carry band aids in my purse for occasions like this.

The bank was looking especially festive today. The tellers celebrated the Phillies' win with a huge cake and Philadelphia soft pretzels. I had a slice of cake and a pretzel while one of the tellers deposited my money.

My next stop was the Collingswood PATCO Station. I hopped a westbound train and got off at the 8th Street Gallery Mall stop. The Gallery Mall is the huge, blocks-spanning mall on Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. I mean, this place is so big, the train stops under it! I browsed a few stores before deciding to avoid the lunch crowd and head outside.

It really was a beautiful day. It was slightly warmer in Phildelphia, but still windy, and even in the city there was that spicy wood-burning smell. I made a brief stop at Burlington Coat Factory to avoid the spiel of an obnoxious evangelist blabbering about the Ten Commandments on the sidewalk to anyone who would (or wouldn't) listen. I usually love the Burlington Coat Factory (especially their great collection of hats and purses), but I couldn't find anything I liked. Nothing seemed right. The purses were too chunky. The hats were too fancy. The low-cut, flared jeans were impractical for bike riding. The bright, empire-waisted blouses looked ridiculous and flimsy. The big buttons on the coats would have made me look huge. God, how I HATE fashion.

A trip to Reading Terminal Market made me feel much better. Reading Terminal Market is Philadelphia's huge version of the Collingswood Farm Market, a massive old building filled with everything from produce stalls to lunch counters to gift booths selling leather and knit goods and jewelry. It was quarter of 2 by the time I got there, and amazingly busy. Some counters were packed two deep. Everything seemed to mingle - girls in uniforms meant to represent the Pennsylvania Dutch next to girls in tight t-shirts hawking cookies. Executives eating at the seafood counter next to janitors and news vendors. I wound up having fish cakes and a soda at the Pearl's Oyster Bar counter next to the 12th street entrance. I also bought a sugar cookie from the bakery across from Pearl's. The fish cakes were supposed to be a sandwich, but no one had bothered cutting the fish cakes, only the bread, so I just ate the cakes, the tomatoes, and a few slices of bread instead. The sugar cookie was really good, a little lemony and not too sweet.

I made my way down Market Street, through City Hall and down to the big FYE on Broad Street. I finally picked up Warner Bros' new Classic Christmas Collection, a set featuring all of their major holiday specials (including three Rankin-Bass specials never seen on DVD before) there. I didn't get anything at the Borders across the street, but I did pick up two records (instrumental recordings of Sigmund Romberg operetta songs and a Johnny Mathis LP) and two children's books (a vintage Strawberry Shortcake kid's cookbook and the American Girls book Addy's Surprise) from Russkof's Used Books and Records, the wonderful used book store on 10th Street.

(I love Washington Square. Bordered by the Jefferson Hospital and Medical College, it has the slightly seedy/genteel feel of Cape May in my youth. The area is mostly bars, small stores like Russkof's, coffee bars for the medical students, and for some reason, lots of small hardware stores. The buildings are, except for some obviously new hospital buildings, a little shabby but not so run-down you feel like you're gonna be killed any second. I imagine it's worse during the night, but during the day, it's really cool.)

I got on the PATCO stop around the corner from Russkof's with no problem. It was about 5:30 by then, and the train was only slightly full when I went home. (I definately wanted to avoid the 6PM rush.)

Oh, and a major word of warning about that Classic Christmas Collection set - boy, did Warner Bros make a mess of that. The disc that's supposed to hold the "Deluxe Edition" of the original animated Year Without a Santa Claus seems to hold the live-action TV movie released last year instead. That's not a big deal for me. I do have the animated Year Without on DVD, but wanted the other specials and to replace my video copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, everything on the case indicates the animated version (including the cover art), and people who bought this hoping for the original will be very disappointed. I seem to remember hearing that Little Drummer Boy, Book II was supposed to be on here, but I don't see it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Autumn Leaves

I'm so tired. I've had a long day. I slept in after staying up late last night and was just about to have a nice, long breakfast before raking the leaves and going to the library. Around 9:30, just as I was getting dressed, I got a phone call from the Acme. Yup, they wanted me to come in, five minutes ago if possible. Seems someone from the bakery called out and they needed to send a cashier with bakery experience to replace them, leaving THEM short of help on the front end!

I did not go in five minutes ago. I told Donna I'd promised my landlady I'd rake the yard, and I really did want to get that done before the men pick up the leaves tomorrow. I went in from noon to 5. Work was on-and-off steady, except for around the usual 4PM-5PM rush hour. There were some cranky people and some people who just couldn't read sale signs. I was not a help. I was cranky and tired from having to rush breakfast and raking and going to bed late and not in the mood for anyone's fussiness. Everyone got so upset when I was hard on myself. I never see it as being hard on myself in the heat of the moment; I just figure that I shouldn't have done it and automatically feel guilty and try to apologize, though no one wants to hear apologies. I can't help feeling bad when I do stupid things. I hate holding up the line.

I did get the raking done today. I mostly just wanted to get the older leaves from the late spring and summer up and on the curb before we get the next round. The trees in the yards are just starting to turn colors and fall. Not all of them are quite there yet, but some are really the most glorious shade of yellow. I got most of the front yard done in a little over an hour; not bad for someone who was in a hurry. My legs are killing me, but I earned $10 and the yard looks somewhat better.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What A Glorious Feeling

I began today at work, my first morning shift in weeks. It wasn't too bad, other than a fair assortment of grouchy people. That gets annoying after a while. I feel like I'm handling a heard of Grumpy Bears...and the grouchiness is MUCH cuter on a blue bear with a rain cloud on its stomach.

I was looking forward to getting off of work. It was a gorgeous day, and I had more than two days to enjoy it. At press time, I don't work again until 2:30PM Saturday. I'd just changed my shirt and was taking out the trash when I saw my landlady, Miss Ellie, coming home from work. She said she had some epoxy she wanted to use on the leaky bathtub, but couldn't corral her nephew to do it. I told her I'd try it; how hard could it be? Besides, it wouldn't hurt for me to learn how to do house-hold repairs myself.

I went for a long walk in Newton River Park after I put the epoxy in my apartment. This was the same park I saw the Fourth of July fireworks in, and it's just as spectacular in the fall. Though most of the trees are just beginning to turn colors, some are already stunning shades of flame orange, golden yellow, coppery brown, and brick red. I made a brief stop at the playgrounds near the stump I rested on while watching the fireworks last summer. I wish I could have gotten to play on them then; they're fun. The set has an especially cool slide with a ramp made of rollers instead of plastic or metal. They're bumpy, but they go very, very fast! I had an enjoyable trip down, even if it was a little hard on my rear.

I continued on my walk, down the pathway and around to Beechwood Avenue, across a little stone bridge and over a few flagstone steps. The river flowed to my right; the Collingswood High School football and soccer teams practiced on the fields to my left. People walking dogs and their children passed by, all enjoying the weather as much as I was.

I'd often passed by a little path between two of the houses on Beechwood Avenue on my way to somewhere else, but I'd never seen where it went to. I decided to check it out. It turned out to be a green, grassy, unpaved passageway that wound around the other side of the river. There were no streets on this path, no high schoolers or dog walkers. This path wound between the river and several houses. It lead to two green fields, one larger than the other, separated from the houses by fences, high cliffs, and more stone stairways. One field was surrounded by woods, with only a glimpse of houses. I may have to return there for a picnic sometime. The other one was greener, almost slick...but it was also behind a row of townhouses and was likely their backyard area. I kept going on the path until it finally came to an end at a clump of high weeds, then climbed another steep stone staircase and walked home (stopping quickly at Dad and Uncle Ken's for the pan that held the chocolate cake on Sunday - oh, and he did fix the dryer).

I applied the epoxy, a putty-like substance you "mixed" in your hands, after I got home. I hope it works. I don't really know much about cauking a bathtub. Miss Ellie told me I could rake the leaves tomorrow, too - they're getting really bad. I spent the rest of the evening having pain-fried Flounder with Herbs, sweet potatoes, and tomato-basil salad for dinner while finally watching the Singin' In the Rain DVD I bought last month.

Oh, and at press time, the Philadelphia Phillies seem to be on their way to their first NL Pennant in 15 years, beating the LA Dodgers 5-1. Philly was crazy enough when the Flyers went to their National Conference Finals in the spring; I can only imagine what it'll be like if they go to the World Series!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Old-Fashioned Drying

I slept longer than I thought I would and was later than I'd hoped getting the laundry done today. It proved to be quite a pain in the rear. Seems Dad and Uncle Ken were doing their laundry this morning too. I ran errands (including sending Lauren's birthday present) while waiting for the dryer to be empty. After I finally got the clothes in the dryer, I went for a second walk. It was another gorgeous day here, breezy, sunny, and in the lower 70s. I admired the many Halloween decorations on people's porches and lawns, ranging from a few pots of mums and a fall wreath on the door to elaborate, blood-soaked displays of plastic skeletons, cotton cobwebs, and massive orange pumpkins.

I decided to open the dryer a little early to see if my clothes were dry. Not only were they still about three-fourths wet, but the dryer wouldn't start again when I closed it...AND it was getting late. I barely had enough time to run home, hang everything on my porch or wherever it would dry the best in the house, change into my damp uniform pants and shirt, throw together a dinner, and run to work. I just made it on time.

Work was steady-to-dead, really no problem except for a few obnoxious old ladies at the beginning. One woman refused to bag and bawled for a bagger. "I don't know how," she claimed. "The last time I tried, everything fell out." That doesn't mean you don't try again! Some of these older ladies who are perfectly capable of fending for themselves are sooo spoiled. They could do things, like Dolores and Lauren's mom and Miss Ellie, but they don't. It was the middle of the afternoon, and all the baggers were busy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Quiet Bit of Balance

First of all, Happy Columbus Day to my American readers! I hope you did some exploring of your own today!

It was a pretty quiet day here. I did my Yogawood class of the week. (I work too early on Wednesday to get to that one.) Jill was back, and we did some moves I'd never seen in the class before. We even used the yoga straps to tone our arms. (My arms certainly could use it.)

Other than that, I didn't do a whole lot today. I mostly worked on editing role-play stories and doing stuff online. Work was a mess, with little help and long lines all night. I don't know what the managers were thinking, but we didn't have enough help on one of the major holiday weekends of the fall. Thankfully, there was no real trouble other than my relief was late and a kind-hearted manager came in for me.

Oh, and I hope this teaches Daddy a lesson about bragging. At press time, the formerly undefeated New York Giants are being pounded by the bottom-dwelling Cleveland Browns, 35-14, unless they can pull off a spectacular turn-around like the Eagles did last night.

Who's got the last laugh now? ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Winners and Losers

I slept in today and had just enough time to eat breakfast and call the family before work. I got Daddy. He was just watching CNN while Mom got washed up; apparently, my little nephew Skylar had visited overnight and they were all tired out. Dad watches a lot of CNN when he's home. He says it's because he doesn't know what's going on when he's out fishing (he's a commercial fisherman) and wants to find out the news right away when he gets home. He also gave me a lot of flack about how the New York Giants are going to win tomorrow. We'll see. He's a huge Giants fan.

Work was busy today, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. We always have plenty of help on Sundays, and between the myriad major sports games this weekend, the many fall carnivals and parties, and people just having Columbus Day Weekend off, most folks were in a good mood. My relief was on time, and I was in and out with no problems.

I went straight over to Uncle Ken's after work. I had a nice time, talking with Uncle Ken, Dolores, Mark, Samantha, and her family while we watched the game. Uncle Ken made beef stew. Samantha brought a huge loaf of bread she made in her bread machine. I brought my chocolate cake. (The kids loved it.) Dad and Jodie came back from their vacation during half-time, and I got to have a nice chat with them, too. They apparently had a nice time in Florida. Jodie was attending a convention for Campbell's Soup in Miami Beach, so they got to stay in a really fancy hotel and do all the things the other wealthy guests did on the company payroll. They also visited old friends of Dad's further north in Ft. Lauderdale.

Oh yes, and though they were losing when I left, the Philadelphia Eagles came back to beat the San Fransisco 49ers 40-26. Mark was happy, too - the Green Bay Packers beat the Seattle SeaHawks 27-17.

Not all is well in the City of Brotherly Love, however. At press time, the Philadelphia Phillies are down 7-2 to the LA Dodgers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fruits (and Doll) Of My Labor

It was so nice to be able to go to the Farm Market today without rushing! I didn't work until 1PM, so I had plenty of time to buy leeks, mushrooms, pears, darling little Mackintosh apples, and ornamental gourds and small pumpkins for my living room. I stopped quickly at the thrift shop to drop off my old Christmas videos, then headed off in search of yard and garage sales.

I only found one yard sale, but it was a corker. There were some nice Christmas ornaments and a wonderful collection of stuffed animals going back to the 80s, but I didn't have much room left by then on the bike. I initially just picked up Lynryd Skyryd and Ray Charles' LPs, but as I was leaving, I happened to turn around and look at the pile of stuffed animals again. I saw a familiar bit of red and pink peeping out from between two battered teddy bears...and remembered. I got quickly off my bike and dove back into the pile, coming up with a little piece of my childhood - the Strawberry Shortcake rag doll! My sister Rose and I had Strawberry Shortcake rag dolls around 1983. I had Strawberry herself; Rose had her more sophisticated buddy Lemon Meringue. Strawberry was dirty and didn't really smell anymore, but she was otherwise intact. I tossed her in the laundry basket when I get home; she'll get a washing machine bath on Tuesday.

I wish work was that pleasant. It was crazy-busy for most of the day, with long lines, cranky customers, and little help. It's Columbus Day Weekend, and a lot of people who haven't gone down to the Shore to close up their summer houses are holding birthday and sports parties (what with the Phillies in the playoffs) or buying food for fall carnivals and get-togethers...or even just enjoying the gorgeous weather.

I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart after work to see if they had the Christmas Classics Collection set. No dice. They were just pulling out a few shelves of Christmas items in the very back. Not only that, but they were just as busy (and as obnoxious) as the Acme. I got out of there as quickly as possible. FYE was better; I did the 2 for $25 WebKinz sale there and bought Lauren her birthday present and me the buffalo I really wanted. (I'm trying not to buy WebKinz unless I REALLY want them or they're not something I'm going to find anywhere else. I suspect I'll end up getting a lot for Christmas this year.) FYE didn't have the collection but were just putting out their holiday videos. I'll go back there when I get paid on Friday.

I stopped at Tu Se Bella Pizzeria near FYE for two slices of pizza and a bottle of water before heading home. My buffalo "scared" a naughty little girl into sitting down with her mommy and aunt. ;)

Oh, and meet Sitting Bull, my big Buffalo! He's really a sweet softy under that heavy hide who loves kids and a good joke as much as the next WebKinz. He's proud of his Western and Indian heretige (he claims the picture of buffalo grazing in the kitchen of his and Rhonda the Deer's Western Fall Condo is a painting of his ancestors). He's Pet #50, and as such, came with an Exclusive Bed. I chose the Monster Under My Bed for Boo's Halloween Room.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bat-ting A Thousand

It was a gorgeous Indian Summer day when I woke up. Couldn't be a more perfect day in October, with a bright blue sky and a sunny, windless day. I ran to the Acme quickly this morning for my paycheck and to pick up unbleached flour, yogurt, and eggs (the first and last on good sales). I stopped at FYE afterwards to see if they had the new WebKinz and the new Christmas Classic Collection set I'm looking for. They did have the new WebKinz but not the set, so I just headed home after that. I put the yogurt and eggs in the refrigerator, refilled the flour container, and headed out again, this time to the White Horse Pike to hit the bank (and finally pay my rent) and for my dental appointment.

It wasn't nearly as bad as last time. I guess my right upper side isn't as grimy as my left. There weren't nearly as many needles this time, and not as much done. It didn't take as long for the numbness to go away, either. I was in and out in a little over a half-hour.

I went over to 7-11 for a pretzel (just to see how numb my mouth WAS), and waited for Amanda to arrive. Amanda's a good friend of mine from college who lives in Vineland, NJ, about 45 minutes away from Oaklyn. We get together from time to time, usually at Christmas, but sometimes for our birthdays. Amanda's birthday was last week; I gave her my present to her, one of the Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater DVDs. (Amanda loves cats in general and is a huge Hello Kitty fan.) Amanda gave me the cutest gray stuffed sheep from Bath and Body Works.

We took the White Horse Pike down to the Voorhees Town Center. Formerly the Echelon Mall, the Town Center is one of four major malls within driving distance of Oaklyn (and not counting the ones in Center City Philadelphia). (The others are the Moorestown Mall, the Deptford Mall, and the Cherry Hill Mall.) The Town Center is in the midst of a major remodeling project, and while it's left the building cleaner and in better shape than some of the other malls in the area, it also means there isn't as much there as there is in Deptford. This isn't helped by the Town Center being more-or-less in the middle of nowhere, with few other major stores nearby (which is one of the reasons the Echelon Mall was having trouble to begin with) and Amanda wasn't willing to go prowling around looking for more.

We both had Grilled Chicken Sandwiches and Carrot and Raisin Salads and shared Waffle Fries at Chick-Fil-A, then walked around the mall. I bought the WebKinz Bat from Hallmark. She bought a candle from the Candle Scents store (not the one she wanted, Chocolate Cupcake, but Vanilla Cupcake smelled real nice too) and a book from Borders Express, and we both admired the gowns we'd never have a reason to wear at Boscov's.

Figuring we weren't going to find much else, we headed back to my apartment and spent an hour there. Amanda had been to my place in Wildwood, but she's never visited me when I've lived in Oaklyn. I haven't been able to talk her into coming this far up the Pikes. We spent a pleasant hour as I showed off my place and we had chocolate cake and watched Hello Kitty. I'm hoping to talk her back up here for New Year's Eve, now that she knows where I am and that I'm not hard to get to.

Oh, and meet my WebKinz Bat, Boo! Naturally, Boo lives in my first Halloween room. I'm hoping to do at least two more rooms with the Halloween theme (a small pub-type restaurant and a bathroom) before they take it away for the year.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ready For the Holidays

Today was counseling day. I slept in and browsed around Collingswood for a while before my session. Said "hi" to Erica at the thrift shop and finally found a copy of the Mikhail Barishnikov version of The Nutcracker, which I watched every Christmas when I worked at the Stockton Media Center in college. I've wanted to get it on DVD, but it's mega-expensive.

I wasn't really hungry, so I just had a few cookies, a soda, and half a blueberry muffin at GrooveGround before heading over to Genesis Counseling for my first session in over two months. We mostly discussed my vacation, my frustration with Mom last week, my desire to get my girlfriends to visit me, and my ideas for finding a job. I do want to look into substitute teaching, and maybe volunteering for school libraries. I think it would be a great way for me to get my foot in the door and see if I want to do this...and if it would be worth spending more money on education.

I made a couple of quick stops in the area after my session ended. I went to the Walgreens on Cuthbert Road to see if they had any of the new WCares WebKinz; they didn't, just Black Bears and Cows. I next stopped at the small Dollar Discount Plus store, a small local dollar store next door to the Westmont Acme. They have a wonderful selection of holiday decorations. While I didn't end up getting any decorations there, I did find something even better. They had a table stacked with what looked like the overflow of children's Christmas DVDs from the Acme next-door. In addition to titles from Barney, Bob the Builder, Veggietales, and Dora the Explorer, they had the 60s Rankin Bass specials Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, and the Universal set with Holiday Inn and Going My Way. I had all but Going My Way on video and had been wanting to replace them (and clear out space on my video and DVD shelves) for years. The Little Drummer Boy was a dollar; the others were $2.50 each. I also grabbed a bag for my friend Amanda's birthday present and cards for Amanda and Lauren (whose birthday is in two weeks).

The Haddon Township Library is down the street from the Westmont Plaza, so I went there next for this week's library session. It was quiet in the library, and given it was also fairly late by then, it may have been just as well that there wasn't much to do. I put away the DVDs and organized some of the CDs. I peeked at AC Moore, Super Fresh, Dollar Tree, and Halloween Adventure after I left the library, but only bought a pack of on-sale pens from Super Fresh for work.

It was a great day for running around, too. It started out cloudy and a little cool, but by the time I went in for my counseling session, it was sunny, bright, windless, and 75 degrees.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Balanced Motions

I went to my Yogawood class today. Jill, the usual instructor, was out today. Her replacement was a small blond lady named Victoria, who was excellent but lacked Jill's joie de vive. The class was actually fairly full for a Wendesday, 8 women counting Victoria. I'm doing better with the "tree" balance on one foot, but I still can't do headstands. Victoria said people who can't headstands probably lack practice or confidence. I know I lack both. And I still feel out-of-place, too. Victoria and the other women knew each other from the area, from PTAs, from pediatrician's offices. I have no children. I'm not married, nor am I ever likely to be at this rate. I don't think I'm ever going to fit in here.

I spent the rest of the morning mucking around online. My friend Amanda e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to go to the Voorhees Town Center (formerly the Echelon Mall) on Friday after my dental appointment. I said "sure." I haven't gotten together with her since Christmas.

It was another lovely day here, sunny and slightly warmer during the day, but still chilly at night. (It's so cold at night here, Miss Ellie turned the heat on. They've actually had frost warnings for the past few days.) Work was steady-to-busy, with no major problems. I had no relief and got in and out on time.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Winterizing the Apartment

Just did some chores at home this morning. Pulled out my winter clothes, mostly to see what I needed after getting rid of a lot last year. Not as much as I thought. I mostly need turtlenecks and mock turtles - I only have my green Land's End turtleneck and my red one left. I could use a winter dress, and I would have needed a new winter coat whether I'd lost weight or not. My lighter winter coat is fraying badly at the cuffs and hems; my heavier winter coat has holes and is missing a button. I've had both for over a decade, the heavier coat since high school. Oh, and I need real winter boots.

I also covered the air conditioner and cleaned the filter for the last time this season. I don't think I'll really need it again. Even if it gets warmer, I doubt it'll get above 75. The 90-degree heat wave we had early last October was something of a freak of nature. If it does get warm, I'll just pull out the fan. After I finished there, I went in the back room and organized the scrapbooks, yearbooks, Christmas books, and photo albums that fell off the bamboo shelves I was keeping them on. I won't be able to do that for very long once it gets colder. The back room isn't heated and it can get chilly over there!

It was such a gorgeous day, I went for a quick walk around my neighborhood after work. I stopped briefly at Doria's Deli for ham to buy hot ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner and chatted with one of the owners. He also just pulled out his winter clothes and agrees that we may have a few more random Indian summer days, but it's unlikely we'll get anything over the 70s, especially seeing how it hasn't gotten over 85 since early August.

Work was, thankfully after yesterday, no problem. My relief was late, but he's one of the kids who chronically is (he has a second job that he can't get away from easily) and I was able to get in and out with no problems.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pipe Dreams

My day went fine...until I got to work, of course. A plumber showed up first thing this morning after my landlady Miss Ellie reported seeing leaks under my shower on Saturday. As it turned out, my shower merely needs to be re-caulked. Miss Ellie's grown nephew, who lives down the street, will probably do it in the next few days.

I spent the rest of the morning doing my laundry, going for a walk, and watching cartoons at Dad's. Dad and Jodie are still on vacation, Uncle Ken and Dolores were out running errands, and Jessa had school. One of my favorite Playhouse Disney cartoons is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a much better way of re-using older characters than the somewhat similar My Friends Tigger and Pooh. In this case, Mickey and the gang hold a carnival at their clubhouse to help Clarabelle Cow (who has traded her trademark long skirt for a yellow hair bow and wide-legged trousers) gather enough corn to feed the new chickens at her petting zoo. The fun-park setting allows us to see other classic Disney characters who only turn up from time to time, along with Clarabelle. Chip and Dale toss bean bags to dunk Donald in the Dunk the Duck tank (of course). Big Pete runs a Guess-His-Weight game. (Hint: he's not QUITE as big as an elephant.) Professor Ludwig Von Drake is in charge of the hot dog stand, and Willie the Giant of Mickey and the Beanstalk fame is his best customer.

The Backyardigans had an even more exciting adventure. Tyrone played mythical sailor Sinbad, who sails the seven seas all alone and makes amazing discoveries. Ever-eager Pablo, however, is determined to join his buddy. Tyrone's not as happy to have him around, especially when his attempts to be an able-bodied sailor wind up losing their water and food...and lands them in some odd games of Simon Says and Freeze tag with Uniqua the Siren and Medusa Tasha respectively!

I went on a lovely walk between shows. Other than being on-and-off cloudy, it was a perfect fall day, in the upper 60s and breezy. The leaves are on the verge of turning colors here. Some are a little red-and-yellow around the tops. Others are still full green. Mums grace every garden, and most homes who don't go the garden route have anything from banners with pumpkins on them to elaborate Halloween displays with huge ghost and goblin statues and massive orange pumpkins.

I wish work were as pleasant. Lots of cranky people today, especially around the 4PM rush hour. One older woman threw a fit when she said she gave me a coupon and I told her I hadn't seen it. I really hadn't. She'd dropped her coupons in an untidy, wrinkled heap on the register. I had to dig around to find coupons that pertained to her order, and the one she was angry about wasn't among them. She didn't pull it out until after the order went through; the bagger confirmed this. She could have taken it up to customer service. People miss coupons all the time. Another woman got mad when her order didn't come out exactly as she'd counted. Sorry, but I'm not the one who prices these items! It's not my fault when they don't come up right.

I finally got a hold of Mom when I got home and ate dinner. I almost wish I hadn't. We ended up arguing over the economy and the Acme and my not saving money. I'd save money if I had any to save. I know the economy's bad, but I don't think it'll hurt the Acme. People still need food, and the only large (business-killing) Wal-Mart in this area is in Deptford 30 minutes away. Mom thinks every single business in the whole universe is in jeopardy just because some of them have shut down in Cape May County. Of COURSE they shut down in Cape May County. There aren't enough people down there year-round to keep them open! (That was one of the big reasons I moved.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Indian Summer

What an absolutely gorgeous fall day! Warm and windless, with a brilliant gold sun against a bright blue sky. I spent most of the morning asleep after a late night online with Lauren and my WENN chat friends. The Beatles show was highlighting their early songs from 1964; I prefer their later music, so I switched to Unsung Musicals CDs as I ate Chocolate Chip Pancakes with honey for breakfast.

Work was steady to busy, with no major problems, not even scheduling snafus. I was in and out on time and went straight home after finishing my shift. I was hoping to catch the family before they left after the Eagles game was over. Uncle Ken, Dolores, Karen, and her 2-year-old son CJ were still there, but Jim had just taken their daughter Taylere to catch a train to Rutgers, Samantha and her family were on their way out, Jessa was at a friend's house, and Dad and Jodie were on vacation. I did get to have a hoagie and some cole slaw and chat with Karen and Dolores (and tell Dolores I intend to do my laundry tomorrow morning) and watch CJ run around on his new foot-powered bike.

And the Eagles lost to the Washington Redskins after being ahead for most of the game. The Phillies, on the other hand, advanced to the National League Championships after beating the Milwaulkee Brewers.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Harvest Time

Even with going into work early today, I still had time to hit the Farm Market beforehand and even check out a few yard sales. I picked up honey, Asian eggplants, a tomato, pears, lovely little apples, celery, carrots, and a green pepper from the Farm Market. There wasn't anything interesting at any of the yard sales on the way home from the Farm Market, but I did find two adorable Pooh Bear and Eeyore Beanie-style stuffed animals at a yard sale on my way to work. They're made with pre-faded, chenille-style fabric and embroidered eyes that give them a sweet, old-fashioned look.

Work was busy today. There were no major problems other than we're still short on help thanks to that lousy schedule. I was out a little late, and after picking up Multi-Grain Cheerios, two discounted bags of Chocolate Chex Mix (yum!), and fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth, I headed home. Thank goodness the weather behaved this time. The wind was gone, and while a few clouds moved in this morning while I was picking my produce, by the time I got out of work, it was sunny and somewhat warmer than it has been (though nothing near as bad as it was this time last year, when it was in the upper 80s).

I spent the rest of the afternoon putting up my many Halloween decorations. I have more than you might think for someone who isn't that big of a fan of Halloween. It's mostly just stuffed toys, cardboard posters, and little items I've picked up over the years, some since college.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sugar and Spice and Work's Not Nice

Once again, with this my only day off, I spent the morning running errands. I picked up my paycheck and a few items at the Acme, then made a brief stop to FYE to see if they had the new WebKinz (they had the Hummingbird and the Triggerfish, but not the Buffalo). When they didn't, I headed across the parking lot to America's Best for my contacts, then next door to Audubon's post office for stamps. I wanted to look for the new WCares WebKinz for Lauren, so I next went to the Walgreens on the Black Horse Pike, making a brief stop at the PNC Bank to deposit my paycheck. No new WCares Lil'Kinz there yet. All I saw were the same old Black Bears, St. Bernards, and Pandas. I did get some more saline solution for my contacts there.

I got a call from work shortly after arriving at home and having lunch. Janice, one of the head front end managers, wanted to know if I could come in early tomorrow...from 7 to 4! Uh, no. I want to go to the farm market tomorrow, and 7 is pushing it anyway. I finally agreed to 10 to 4. I need the hours badly, but I'm getting a little tired of this calling in stuff. Why don't they teach managers how to make schedules, so they don't screw up or panic so badly when the ones who normally do it go on vacation, take family or sick leave, or are otherwise unavailable?

The rest of the day was passed at home, baking and dusting (the latter finishes the cleaning for this month). I made my first loaf of French bread. I didn't get it into the right shape, but it smelled and tastes lovely. My gingerbread came out well, too, nice and soft and spicy. I made a garlic-chicken stir fry for dinner when I took too long working on editing the Monkees role-play and needed a quicker dish than the one I'd originally planned.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Time of the Season For Cleaning

Continued my monthly cleaning today. Washed the windows, dusted the sills and the blinds, and vacuumed the living room and my bedroom. I also got a bit of a surprise when I opened the door this morning and received a blast of cool air. It barely got into the 60s here today, which was fine by me. It's not like it's been really hot here since mid-August anyway. We had on-and-off clouds, but no rain.

Work was steady-to-busy tonight, which wouldn't have been a problem if we weren't still short on help. Janice actually tried to get me to come into work tomorrow. Oh, I am going to go to the Acme tomorrow...for my paycheck and groceries. I want at least ONE day off this week!

And maybe they'll have the stupid computers fixed by then. My register froze on me less than ten minutes before I was supposed to leave. I had enough stray change sitting out that I was able to give the woman whose order had just finished hers, but the other two people in my line had to go elsewhere. I hate it when that happens. I end up feeling so stupid, even though it's not anyone's fault but the computer system.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fall Cleaning

It's cleaning week here at the Riverside Rest. I wanted to get started last week, but I kept getting called into work. I was finally able to get enough time in at home to do the bathroom (which badly needed it) and the kitchen. The weather started the same as yesterday - sun in the morning, but cloudy by the time I left for work.

Unlike yesterday, we just got rain, no noisy thunder. It was raining lightly when I got out of work and looked like it hadn't been doing it for very long. Work was a bit of a pain today, but it's the beginning of the month, which brings a lot of obnoxious people out of the woodwork. We were overrun with people with carts filled with sale and dollar items and stacks and stacks of coupons for every single item in the cart...and they always come back for more, if not right away, later in the day. I know as well as the store does that they're buying things for chop shops and stores in Camden and Philadelphia that resell these items illegally. I wish they'd crack down on this. Not only is it aiding and abetting criminal activity, but it holds up the line and takes inventory away from people who are buying things legitimately for their families and really need them. If they can't buy the things they need for their stores from warehouses like normal people, they should not be in business.