Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finishing the Christmas Cleaning

When I first opened my eyes this morning and turned over to look at my bedside clock, I assumed it would say 7:30 or maybe quarter of 9. Instead, it said 9:38...and I had work at 11:30! Needless to say, I did quite a bit of rushing around. After all that, work was steady-to-dead for the majority of the day. I rode to work in the rain, since I didn't really have enough time to call for a ride. It rained all day and I got wet, but oh well. I didn't think I'd sleep that long!

It might have been just as well that the weather was so bad. The rest of the afternoon was spent indoors, finally finishing the pre-holiday cleaning. I vacuumed the apartment and dusted under everything, including my collectibles and stuffed animal display that I usually only clean around. I really need to dust that stuff more often. My collectible teddy bear collection literally had cobwebs! I didn't realize it had gotten that bad.

I watched two of the three Christmas documentaries Linda sent me last year while finishing the cleaning and eating chicken soup and applesauce for dinner. I'm not normally a fan of documentaries, but those are really enjoyable, especially the British Christmas Past, since it discusses many English Christmas traditions that never made it to this side of the Atlantic, like Christmas crackers and Christmas for servants in English manor houses. I think I'll try to watch those every year while cleaning the house for Christmas and/or putting up the first decorations. I enjoy hearing about the history of one of the biggest holidays of the year as I prepare for this year's chapter.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Clean Apartment Is a Christmas Apartment

I spent most of today working again. It was busier today than earlier in the week. I guess everyone's coming in from the malls. We had to call a lot of bakery and stock workers to the front to help. Thankfully, other than that, there were no problems and my relief was on time. I bought milk and pretzels, then headed home as fast as I could. I wanted to finish cleaning my apartment today so I could start my Christmas decorating tomorrow, but I was just able to do the windows and dress my dolls Dulcie, Samantha, and the Sailor Soldiers in their Christmas outfits. I'll try to finish up tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's the Holiday Season

I spent my Black Friday morning at work, where it was steady, but not really crazy. Who wants to go major food shopping the day after Thanksgiving? Um, ok, I did, but I didn't cook yesterday and a "major" shopping trip for me is $30 (and in fact, today's only came up to about $20). I also got my schedule for next week. While the upside is more hours...the downside is LOUSY hours, including only one day off (counseling day) and 7AM to 12PM on Saturday. I hate having to go to bed really early for those early days. Throws off my internal clock. I really wish I had consistent hours.

After I finished shopping, I went straight home, put everything away, changed my shirt, and made a quick run to the bank. I heard the tellers complain that it was busy earlier, but the tellers were the only people there by the time I arrived around quarter of 4.

The rest of the day was devoted to taking down the Thanksgiving decorations and cleaning the kitchen. I'll do as much cleaning as I can tomorrow and try to start putting up the Christmas decorations Sunday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

These Eagles Aren't Turkeys

Maybe all they needed was a little turkey in them. At press time, the Philadelphia Eagles are plucking the feathers off the Arizona Cardinals, 41-20. Now THAT'S what I call an early Christmas present. ;)
Thanksgiving With the Family

Happy Thanksgiving! Just gonna drop a quick note, since I'm tired and I want to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving before I head for bed. I started the morning with Garfield's Thanksgiving and the only TV show I own with a Thanksgiving episode, the seventh season Perfect Strangers episode "Wild Turkey." Larry buys 58 turkeys from a farmer the day before Thanksgiving, hoping to sell them to last-minute shoppers. His scheme, pardon the pun, turns out to be a turkey. The only bird they sell all day may be the one who ate Larry's wife's wedding ring, and he and Balki actually go to the family that bought it in an attempt to get into the turkey to retrieve it. Other than some cute references to Happy Days, this one's not a huge favorite of mine. Larry and Balki were really lucky they weren't arrested for more-or-less breaking into this family's home and almost destroying their dinner!

I watched part of the Macy's Parade after Garfield. I was surprised to see a Smurf balloon. Rose later said they never really fell out of popularity, and I know they've been big in Europe since the 50s...but didn't they kind of peak in the 80s? I had to check my calender to make sure it wasn't 1985!

Rose did show up on time, for once, and with a bit of a surprise. She brought her two puppies, Kelsey the Miniature Pincher and Toby the Border Collie, with us today. Her boyfriend apparently had work, and his mother, who normally watches the dogs, was visiting relatives. Kelsey kept trying to climb into her mother's lap (ignoring the fact that she was driving), but other than that, the dogs were very good.

The rest of my family was pretty good, too. It was me, Rose, the two dogs, my sister Anny, her boyfriend Mike, her 4-year-old son Skylar, Mom, Dad, and our cousin from Virgina, Adam (the son of Mom's sister Terri, and a good friend of Anny's). Mom was the only one home when we arrived, watching the end of the parade and basting the turkey. The boys came home about twenty minutes later from a run to the closest WaWa for milk, and Anny, Mike, and Skylar arrived about a half-hour after that.

Mom and Dad live in a brand-new, just-built house in Erma, about ten or so minutes from Cape May on the mainland, across from the Cape May County Airport. It's really a lovely house. I loved her gorgeous, modern kitchen (and the top-of-the-line appliances), and her pretty sage-green master bedroom. Keefe had his own bedroom with a daybed and a work desk he made himself. Anny's boyfriend Mike laid the hard wood floors, and Mom designed the tile pattern in the downstairs bathroom and sewed or crocheted the curtains herself. (Mom's already talking about additions; I don't know if Dad's as enthusiastic, especially since they just finished the main house a few months ago.)

We played Mario Kart on the Wii and watched football until "dinner" was ready. Dinner was very early, about 2PM, but Mom had gotten the turkey in early and she knew Rose and I didn't want to stay for long. We had turkey (I had dark meat - I love dark meat), sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, ginger-glazed carrots, green bean casserole, real home-made not-boxed stuffing, cranberry sauce, pearl onions, and rolls. I ate a ton of everything but the mashed potatoes (I'm not a big fan of white potatoes).

We watched the original 1969 The Love Bug while Mom prepared coffee and tea. Love Bug is one of Skylar's favorite movies. He loves to "drive" along with Herbie, making car noises with his Pop Pop and Uncle. Skylar chased the dogs (thankfully, he never caught them) while we had chocolate chip bars, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and my gingerbread cookies for dessert.

After Rose, the dogs, and I left Mom and Dad's, we stopped at Rose's best friend Colleen's house for a few hours to chat with her and her mother. Colleen has been Rose's best friend since they were in many of the same high school classes together. Colleen is sweet (she's actually eaten over for Thanksgiving several times), but tends to be a little neurotic and high-strung. She'd just come home from Thanksgiving dinner with another family when we arrived. Her mother, a postal employee, came home about an hour later. We sat back and chatted and watched The Closer Marathon on TNT. (I was surprised how much I ended up liking that show, maybe because, unlike the 500 versions of CSI, it keeps the icky stuff and science talk to a minimum.)

We made a very brief stop back at Mom and Dad's for a bag of seafood Daddy, a commercial fisherman, wanted to give Rose, then two tired girls and two even more tired pups drove home. We had a lovely chat about books (Rose reads science fiction, fantasy, and English lit classics; I prefer mysteries) and about our family (and Anny's problems with the new baby coming) on the way home.

I'm thankful I had the opportunity to spend time with my family (and that they all more-or-less behaved themselves) and to finally visit them. I'm thankful for being able to provide for myself at least a little.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bikes, Trains, and Automobiles

Spent the majority of today at work. Work was on-and-off steady for most of the day, with no major problems. I'm thankful that I was just finishing work as the Rush Hour crowd was coming in, and they were nice enough to send one of the kids coming off their breaks in for me instead of making me wait for my relief, who is usually late anyway. I'm also thankful that everyone was in a far better mood this year than they were last Thanksgiving. I spent most of the days leading up to Thanksgiving last year tearing my hair out because the customers were being so darn obnoxious. I didn't hear so much as a peep out of anyone today.

I got calls on my cell phone and home phone from Rose when I got in. She'll be picking me up between 10 and 11AM tomorrow...which, knowing her, probably means around 11 or 12. We both have to work early on Friday, so we're not staying in Erma overnight.

I watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles while warming up soup for dinner and making the Cinnamon Swirl Bread for the family. I hope no one minds that it sort of fell apart.

For those of you who won't be online tomorrow, I wish all of my American readers a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Spent most of today doing chores. In fact, I didn't even get half the chores done today that I wanted to. I only got to cleaning the bathroom while the laundry was in the dryer. I'd wanted to get at least the bathroom and the kitchen done today. I bought a few things at Super Fresh and Dollar Tree...and of course, forgot the reason I went to Dollar Tree, which was for a shower curtain. I put together the home-made pumpkin bread tonight before dinner. I hope no one in Erma minds that it's a little flat. I'll do the Cinnamon Swirl Bread tomorrow evening, after work.

Also did the last episode of Centennial today I'm going to watch for the time being. While The Winds of Death, on the Depression in the West, was one of the best acted and written episodes, it's not one I'm going to repeat unless I watch the entire series straight through again. The tale is a sad and, ultimately, tragic one. The scheming Wendalls encourage families to come north and start farms on arid land, using a method of farming that strips the topsoil, allowing wheat to grow. Old hands at Centennial like Hans Brumbaum know it's a bad idea, but all the new farmers see is cheap land and their good fortune...until the dust storms that plagued the Mid-West and West in the 1920s and 30s begin. The farmers find themselves unable to pay for their land and homes. The ranchers are attacked when smarty-pants breeders create a new strain of smaller bull that look nice but can't withstand the arid country. And the Mexicans who work in the larger farms want more rights and respect from the prejudiced townspeople.

I still don't know what happened to the cowboys (I imagine that breed "pretty bull" probably succumbed to disease and wiped them out), but while the Mexican story came out all right in the end...the Dust Bowl farmers, in Centennial and in real life, lost everything. The ending looked more like Rosemary's Baby than The Waltons, and it's been haunting me all day. I hope it doesn't give me nightmares.

The Bonanza episodes were more pleasant, while still giving me things to think about. I know even less about Bonanza than I do about The Wild Wild West, other than it involved a man and his sons who owned a ranch, it ran forever in the 60s, and it gave Michael Landon his start. I especially liked "The Medal," featuring a very young Dean Stockwell of Quantam Leap as a drunken man who was once a reluctant Civil War hero.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Raining In the Holidays

I ended up spending almost the entire day at work. The head cashier called me around 8:30-9AM. Did I want to come in and work around 10-10:30? No, not really, but I needed the money. I made it in around quarter of 11 and worked until 6:30. It was busy almost the entire time, and while there were no really major problems, I haven't worked an 8-hour shift in ages. I came home tired as heck and with a splitting headache, which has only somewhat subsided.

I called Mom when I got home. I forgot our usual call yesterday. She's fine. Getting ready for Thanksgiving and for the arrival of my sister Anny's new son soon. The baby is due any day now, and that includes Thanksgiving. (If she has the kid on Thanksgiving, Rose, Daddy, and I are in charge of the food. Mom will take her to the hospital, and Keefe will watch Skylar, Anny's 4-year-old son.) Dad had gone out to WaWa for ice cream, when he's not supposed to be eating ice cream. Mom says he won't eat light ice cream. No one can figure out why, since most light ice cream tastes the same as the regular stuff or better. Must be a big-guy-macho thing.

It was sunny when I went to work this morning, but it clouded up sometime in the afternoon, and by the time I made it home around quarter of 7, it was damp and a little humid (though not as bad as a week or so ago). It started pouring about a half-hour later, when I was eating scrambled eggs for dinner and watching "Centennial," and it hasn't let up since. It's supposed to be sunny and in the lower-mid 40s for Thanksgiving and the rest of the week, which is fine. That's only slightly colder than it should be for this time of year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fine Diner

Not a whole lot going on this Sunday. I worked in the late morning and early afternoon. It was busy all day, not surprising, given this is not only the final weekend before Thanksgiving, but the last weekend of football until December. The Eagles next play on Thanksgiving night. My relief was just barely on time, but other than that, there was no problems. I bought Celestial Seasonings "Nutcracker Sweet" Holiday Tea and baking powder and got out as fast as I could.

Miss Ellie called earlier to say that she'd hired a man to clean out the gutters, cut down branches, get the leaves out of the ivy patches, and basically do everything that neither of us could do. He did have everything done by the end of the day, and it looks great...but I wish he could have put my porch furniture back where I had it.

There wasn't much going on at Uncle Ken's. He apparently had his first round of chemotherapy this week and wasn't feeling up to major celebrations. Not to mention, the game was lousy. The Eagles eventually lost to the Baltimore Ravens 36-7 and really need to get some spark - and fan loyalty - back. I ended up having a massive California Cheeseburger at the Newton Diner on the White Horse Pike instead. The burger was thin...but it was wide, much larger than the bun, and came with lettuce, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and olives on a toasted roll. (I didn't eat the olives. I can't stand olives.) I also had a small plate of fries I only hate half of and a thimbleful of cole slaw. Not bad, all said, and only about $8.50 with tip.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Culture Shocked

Spent the morning and much of the afternoon at work. It was on-and-off busy...but when it was busy, it was VERY busy. There were some cranky and/or annoying people, especially in the morning. One couple who couldn't speak English nearly drove me insane! I tried to explain to them that they could use different payments in the same order to get all the things they wanted, but they just didn't seem to get it. One of the managers came over and suggested they call their English-speaking daughter...and they STILL didn't buy everything!

I went straight home after work, then went back out again to make a quick run to deposit my paycheck in the ATM machine at the PNC Bank down the street from me. It had been sunny, windy, and still unusually cold for this time of year all day, and it remained so into the night. It was a lovely, brisk walk. I don't mind walking in the cold. It gets the circulation going, and it beats walking in the heat! It's supposed to jump into the upper 40s by Monday, then drop back into the 40s in time for Thanksgiving...still a little cold for this time of year, but more tolerable for people who don't handle the cold well. (And it'll make my mother happy. She can stash extra food that needs to be kept cold outside.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside Is Frightful...

Yes, we were in the midst of our first real snow showers since February when I woke up this morning. Much to the disappointment of every kid in the area, I'm sure, the snow wasn't around for very long. It snowed on-and-off until about mid-morning, but the snow began melting long before even that and was long gone by the time I went to work at 1:30.

I spent the morning posting our newest Monkees role play story, The Play Is The Thing. We've been working on it for weeks. It's this year's long NaNoWrite story, which is why it took so long. Unlike last year, this year, we went way over 50,000 words. Lauren will get the exact amount in a few days, but it should be more in the line of 60,000-80,000. We did a lot of writing this year, starting earlier than usual in the evening and several times, going very late in the morning. (Also helped to have had fewer distractions this year. We only skipped one night, when Lauren went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular with her folks on Veteran's Day.)

Work was on-and-off steady tonight, much to my surprise. I thought it would be far busier. I guess everyone's waiting for the weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful for Snow

Faced with the prospect of a dull morning (I didn't work until 2:30 today and had no plans), I decided to go for a walk. I returned the two videos and one of the books I took out of the Oaklyn Library, then headed over a bridge, past Market Street in Audubon, and down to Pine Street. Willie the Woodsman and Wife, the little gift shop with the great WebKinz selection, has advertised having some of the newest WebKinz on their e-mail list for several weeks now. Not only did they have the one I wanted for a friend, but the kind owner said she was expecting a shipment of the newest WebKinz tomorrow! Hopefully, they'll be there the next time I go up there. I didn't get anything for myself. I treated myself to a chai tea from The TreeHouse Cafe and a cupcake from Desserts by Design instead.

It was cloudy when I headed out. Shortly after I left the Oaklyn Library, it began to flurry lightly, nothing really big. It stopped before I got to Willie the Woodsman's, and by the time I was ready for work, the clouds were breaking up and the sun was out.

Work was really busy tonight, though thankfully there were no major problems other than a few obnoxious people who wouldn't help bag or fussed about it. My relief was late, but he's always late, and it was dead by the time I was done at 7:30 anyway. I went straight home to chat with Lauren and finish off this month's very long Monkees story.

Incidentally, according to Yahoo!Weather, we were supposed to get snow showers tonight. We must have just missed them. It just sprinkled on my ride home, though it looked like it may have rained harder before I got out.

Oh, and Rose finally got back to me this evening. Yes, we are going down to Mom and Dad's in Erma together for Thanksgiving. She said she'd get back to me on Wednesday night.

Ow! I just smacked the underside of my arm against the doorknob on the emergency door to Miss Ellie's side of the house while walking back to my bedroom from the kitchen. It's still a little sore.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cleaning Up the Great Outdoors

Today was the perfect day to rake the yard. It was cold, crisp, and clear, with a little wind, but nothing like the last few days. Not to mention I had no other plans today and was off work, so I was actually able to get the entire job done in one day. I usually have to fit raking in between work shifts and errands. I raked the entire front yard, save the one patch by the short driveway, late this morning and early this afternoon.

I took about an hour and a half between raking to have a grilled turkey and cheese with spinach sandwich for lunch, watch The Backyardigans, and start a new loaf of Whole Wheat Bread. The Backyardigans DVD I took out yesterday was one of the older titles with first season episodes. I'd seen most of "Race Around the World" and "Castaways," but never saw how they ended. Of the two I hadn't seen before, "Cave Party" was the better one. Cave critters Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone "invent" everyday objects to help them get up the mountain for Tasha and Austin's new form of entertainment - the party! "Eureka" was a cross between a Gold Rush tale and a dinosaur-hunting sci-fi story. Tyrone and Pablo are old-time prospectors searching for a big gold strike with picks and shovels. Tasha and Uniqua are paleontologists searching for unusual dinosaur bones with a metal detector. You can see where this is leading, but there's some cute moments on the way, including how the kids cross the river.

It took another hour after lunch to finish the patch of land by the driveway and do the side path. The side path once again had as many leaves as the front yard and maybe more. They were just raked into the tree-and-leaf covered backyard. There was a lot to do on the area near the driveway, too, since I wasn't able to finish that last time due to rain. Miss Ellie pulled in just as I finished the side yard and put the rake and broom back on the porch. I earned $30 for my efforts today. Sweet.

I spent the rest of the evening working on editing the Monkees Role Play (look for the whole thing by the end of this weekend), eating shrimp and sauteed green beans, and watching part one of Centennial, the TV mini-series adaptation of the sprawling James A. Michener novel about the title Colorado town and the taming of the west. The first episode covered the Indians who lived in Colorado prior to the arrival of whites and the first trappers and immigrants who made their living and their lives among them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And To Dry Leaves, That Before the Wild Hurricanes Fly...

First of all, happy birthday to my brother Keefe, who turns sweet sixteen today. I called Keefe this evening. Poor kid apparently spent his birthday sick in bed after being taken out of school with a very nasty cold. It wasn't entirely bad, though. His parents gave him a new TV that apparently kept him entertained enough, and the very pregnant, read-to-pop-any-day Anny and her son Skylar had just arrived for dinner when I called him.

The wind returned with a vengeance today. They howled around my apartment and tried to blow the tarp off my bikes. The remaining leaves skittered around my porch, sounding like a thousand running insects. They provided a nice "crunch" along with the slight "thud" I heard as I caught sight of a pair of booted feet leaving a small brown and black box on my doorstep.

The package turned out to be from my good friend Linda Young and her husband James in Georgia. Like last November, I received a present to be opened after Thanksgiving, one for St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, two presents for Christmas Day (they look like books - Linda shares my love of books), and a present and several small items to be opened now. The present for now was a lovely bread cloth with an embroidered wheat sheath and the words "Our Daily Bread" on one corner. I wonder if Linda made it herself? Embroidery is one of her hobbies.

It was a great start to an otherwise fairly quiet day. After I finally finished breakfast, I headed over to Uncle Ken's to do my laundry. Daddy was watching The Weather Channel and doing work on his laptop. Uncle Ken was resting in the den. I talked to Dad about Thanksgiving and the weather. It was sunny when I was there, but the Weather Channel reported possible clouds for later and heavy snowfall in parts of the Midwest and West.

All was still sunny in the afternoon, however, so I went for a walk to the Oaklyn Library while the laundry was in the dryer. I listened to the chatter of the school children as I browsed the videos and DVDs and read magazines. I ended up with two childrens' books on Thanksgiving and two of the books I took out of the Oaklyn Library last holiday season, Christmas In America and Cranberry Thanksgiving. I also took out two more Winnie the Pooh holiday specials, Winnie the Pooh Seasons of Giving and Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too!.

I rode out to the Haddon Township Library after I finished the laundry, got it home, and had lunch. I just organized the childrens' DVDs, which needed it (the Ss were really bad) and put away several stacks of adult DVDs. I looked for Christmas and/or Thanksgiving books at Haddon Township but didn't find anything of interest, so I ended up with the newest Garfield comic book, two Disney comic books, and a Backyardigans DVD I hadn't seen, Cave Party.

I made a quick stop at AC Moore to shop for inexpensive birthday presents for my sister Anny, but by that point, it was not only getting late, but clouds were coming out...and the temperature was dropping rapidly. I made a quick stop at Super Fresh but found nothing of interest there and just headed home afterwards.

I'll spend tomorrow raking leaves and baking bread if I'm not called in to work.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Balancing Work and Play

Had my weekly yoga class this morning. It was stuffed full - I just barely managed to get a spot! There had to be almost 20 women in the studio today, counting the teacher, Jill. It was sunny and chilly, in the mid-upper 40s, but yesterday's gale-force winds had diminished considerably. I'm doing better with class. I still can't do shoulder stands, but my balance is getting better. My shoulders just don't get the frequent work-out that my always-on-the-move legs do.

I browsed around Collingswood after class ended, but the Collingswood Variety Store didn't have the new WebKinz Snowman I wanted to get someone for a present, there was nothing interesting at the thrift shop or the Library, and most other Collingswood stores are closed on Mondays. I ended up just heading home.

Feeling at loose ends, I spent the rest of the morning working on various little chores around the house. I finally did my finances and figured out exactly what I have in the bank. I have slightly more in the bank than I thought, which makes me feel a little better, but it's still not a lot. After I did that, I went through the big red file folder with my old bills, work pay stubs, and various personal and household items. I found some bills and Acme items going as far back as 2005, right before I moved, including bills for gas and electric! (Miss Ellie pays all utilities here but my phone/Internet, which is one of the reasons I took this apartment in the first place.)

I also made my Christmas Card and Shopping List and decided what I'm going to do about the holidays. I really do love Christmas shopping, so I'll still buy small toys for all of the little kids - my nephew Skylar and his new brother who will be born any day now, my cousin Faith, and her older brothers Matt and Ethan (I may get those two something to share). I may also buy small items for my teenage brother Keefe and stepsister Jessa. Everyone else will receive a food gift of some kind. I've been wanting to experiment with some of those fancy Christmas yeast breads, like stolen and Panettone.

Work was, for once, quite pleasant, busy and fast. Not only did I have no problems with the customers, but one of them complimented me on my efficiency in handling her turkey order. Considering all the fuss yesterday over the turkeys, I really appreciated that compliment.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

All Tied Up

Began today with the Rankin-Bass feature-length film Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas In July, a bizarre 1979 attempt to show what happens when Rudolph's nose stops glowing. Other than a nice voice cast that includes Red Buttons, Ethel Merman, and Jackie Vernon, Mickey Rooney, Hal Peary, and Shelly Winters reprising previous Rankin-Bass characters, there's not much to recommend here. The songs are mostly either holiday novelty tunes or 70s pop songs; only the cute "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" circus number stands out. Fans of the Rankin-Bass specials will enjoy looking for references to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Frosty's Winter Wonderland, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and Rudolph's Shiny New Year, but those of you unfamiliar with the specials or with young children (or who aren't big on kitsch) will want to start with the originals.

(Incidentally, as far as I can tell, this marks the only appearance of Frosty and his snow-wife Crystal in stop-motion animation. The first two Frosty specials were done in regular 2-D mode.)

Work was insanely busy today, even after the Eagles game began at 1PM. The closer we get to Thanksgiving, the more people are going to start coming for their pumpkin pies and canned goods and free turkeys...and did they ever fuss about those turkeys! One man didn't understand about the coupon at all and assumed the turkey just came off with the card. My very last customer of the day complained that she couldn't find the free turkeys at all, and then when we did find the free turkeys (turns out she'd looked in the wrong place), she complained that it wasn't the right brand to use a second coupon, even though the manager brought her the brand that's free! With so many people struggling, those free turkeys are going to be more important...and more of a pain...than ever this year. I just hope people stay in a decent mood. Last year, I dealt with so many grouches the week before Thanksgiving, I was ready to tear out my hair.

I went home and made a French Vanilla Mousse Pie. After that was in the fridge, I called Uncle Ken to see if he'd invited anyone to watch the Eagles-Bengals game with him. He said "There's people over here, we have food," so I figured it was clear for me to go over.

It was, indeed, clear. There was food - cheesesteaks, fancy Gorgonzola and Brie cheeses with garlic toast, chips, Doritos, a chocolate cookie "pizza" (chocolate chip cookie dough baked in a pizza pan with icing), very fudgy brownies, an apple pie, mini-brownies, and small soft pretzels. Unlike the last few weeks, there were also people. The game was still on when I got in, and Uncle Ken's den was full of screaming Eagles fans, including Dolores, most of her kids (their kids were upstairs with Jessa), Mark, Al, and Uncle Ken himself. Daddy and Jodie opted for the quieter living room.

I had a great night. I chased my older cousin Karen, her 2-year-old son CJ, and my other older cousin Samantha and her 3-year-old daughter Faith run around the front yard, playing sword fight with sticks, before CJ decided he wanted to play his favorite thing in the world - golf.

After it got dark, Faith and I went back inside and joined the other kids, Faith's older brothers Matt and Ethan and Dolores' grandchildren Mercedes and Blake. They were playing some kind of game Matt called "Scary Pillows." As far as I could tell, the gist of the game was this - one person hides upstairs, while the others creep up the staircase, holding pillows. The other person, also holding a pillow, jumps out and tries to touch the others with his pillow. The others try to avoid him, using their pillows for defense.

I hadn't laughed so hard in months. "Trying to avoid the scary pillow person" consisted of racing downstairs, squealing and ducking flying novelty pillows from Jessa's room. Noisy, but a lot of fun. I kept getting caught in the tide of fleeing children and swept along with them, whether I wanted to be or not! At one point, Blake apparently "ankled" Ethan, grabbing him by the ankles. Whatever he did, it sent all five of us tumbling head-over-heels downstairs. No one was hurt, but we couldn't sit up for several minutes because we were all laughing so hard! (We did make Blake promise to lay off the football moves after that.)

You are never too old to have a good time...especially when Matt, Samantha's oldest boy, told me later after the other kids had left how much he appreciated me playing with him, Ethan, and Faith. I don't think he realized it, but what he said meant as much to me as gold. I do genuinely enjoy playing with the kids. It was probably more fun than listening to the other adults complain about the game, which ended in a rare 13-13 tie, the first since 2002. Apparently, neither team played very well.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Storm Cometh

Plink, plink. I began my morning with the sounds of heavy rain on my roof. NOT a good thing. I had early work, and I really didn't feel like asking for a ride at 8AM. By the time I finally got going at quarter of 9, the rain had subsided, leaving dark clouds, heavy wind, and unusually warm and humid temperatures. It just started to rain again as I arrived, but the rain subsided quickly and was replaced by, to everyone's surprise, sun. Every single forecaster in a hundred miles had predicted nasty thunderstorms all day.

Maybe because of the suddenly-spring-like weather, the Acme was extremely busy today, even more so than it usually is on a weekend. We had very long lines all day long, not helped by several call-outs. I ended up having no relief and was lucky it had slowed down enough by the time I left that there were no problems getting off. (My relief had apparently taken her two weeks notice a few days ago, but refused to work the rest of those two weeks. According to several other cashiers, this wasn't the first time she'd quit, either.)

As of press time, we still haven't gotten thunder, at least not that I've heard. However, about an hour after I'd come home from a walk to CVS, it started to pour. And I mean, really pour. I poked my head out to see just how bad it was and to pull down the storm window on my front door. When I pulled back in a few minutes later, I was soaked...and I'd been standing in my own front doorway!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Arrgh. I had my dentist's appointment late this morning. The scaling and cleaning went well...but that one molar on the lower right side is STILL sore. It's been sore for months. I was hoping it would only need to be bled until the swelling went down, but the ladies took photos, and it would seem it's infected. Again. After it was infected last spring. It doesn't hurt as much as it did last spring, thank goodness...but I still need a root canal. Even though the ladies in the dental office were nice enough to recommend a dentist who is on my insurance plan's listing, I still hate the idea of needing a root canal at all. I'm wondering if I should do it now or wait until after the holidays. I might not be able to get an appointment anyway, at this late date.

Actually, I'm just really mad at myself for needing a root canal at all. My teeth have NEVER been this bad. I've never needed this kind of surgery on anything. My eyes have gotten worse, too. Why don't I take better care of myself? Why did I wait seven years to get my eyes and teeth checked? Why didn't I just spend the money? Why did I put everything off? Why didn't the infection go away after the first time?

My financial situation is little better. I made enough to pay off the rest of my rent, but not my bills, and I barely have any left in the bank. I wish I knew more about how to handle money. I tried starting a savings account when I lived in Wildwood, but I never had anything to put in it, and it eventually closed. I haven't even bothered here. Why start a savings account when you never know what you're going to put in your checking account from week to week? My paycheck varies with my hours, making it very difficult to know how much to put away and how much to put in it from week to week. I'm wondering if there's someone at the bank whom I could ask for advice about how to handle money when I don't have a lot of it. Everyone I know is either retired or broke themselves (Mom's always complaining about how Dad spends his money the moment he gets it).

My errands didn't go that well, either. I went to FYE to see if they had The Chronological Donald, Vol 4 on the strange chance I actually get the money to buy it. Nope, they either never got it, or it sold out. They didn't have any of the new Treasures sets at all. I'm so disappointed. That FYE's always had such a good selection. I was sure they'd get the Treasures sets! Maybe there was a mix-up with shipping similar to the one that delayed the arrival of The Sword In the Stone in June.

The weather didn't even cooperate. It rained all day, a fine, misty rain that did no more than make me damp, but was still annoying. It misted all during my dental appointment, during my walk home, and while I was running to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. The mist didn't stop completely until I was on my way down the White Horse Pike to the bank to drop off my paycheck, WaWa for milk, and Doria's Deli for turkey lunchmeat. It hasn't rained since, which I hope bodes well for tomorrow. Yahoo!Weather says we're supposed to get thundershowers, then get very cold on Sunday...and maybe even get snow on Tuesday!

I even burned the gingerbread cookies I made with the Limited Edition Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix that came out last week. I made those all last holiday season and was looking forward to seeing them again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rain Delays

Well, I WAS going to finish the raking this morning. There's one small square of land by Miss Ellie's driveway I hadn't gotten to yet. It was only raining a little when I began to rake, but it didn't even take ten minutes for the rain to come down harder. I just couldn't finish. I ended up leaving a pile of wet leaves in the side yard and heading back in the house to dry off. I spent the morning editing and uploading the next parts of this month's Monkees Role-Play story instead.

(And I'm going to add right here that this month's Monkees story was intended for the NaNoWrite program that encourages people to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. We've almost hit the goal, but we've had so much fun, we're just going to keep going until we run out of story or it gets closer to Thanksgiving, whichever comes first. The full story will be posted then.)

Needless to say, this was NOT a bike-riding day. I got a ride from Uncle Ken and Dolores both to and from work. It was still pouring when I got into work around 2:30. The weather must have been effecting people's moods this evening. There were a LOT of obnoxious, grouchy, fussy, and just plain cranky people in my line. I even saw that awful old woman with the frizzy hair who always makes trouble and gets everyone in line mad. While she didn't come through my line this time (thank goodness), no one deserves to handle an old witch like that.

Things weren't much better at home. I had trouble with WebKinz World for at least two hours. First, they wouldn't let me on at all, then they put out a sign claiming to be "full." Full of what? Posters all over the WebKinz forums were claiming they couldn't get in, either. The last time I checked at about 10 after 10PM, the sign-in screen was at least coming up...but by that time, I'd gotten so frustrated I'd given up on trying to get in myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gathering the Leaves

Fairly simple day today. I spent the afternoon at work. Work was steady for most of the day, more than it usually is in the middle of the week. Either a lot of people still have off after yesterday, or more folks are opting to get ready for Thanksgiving early. Either way, the day went quickly. There were no problems, and my relief was on time.

There were more leaves to rake after I got home and changed my shirt. The path that leads to my apartment was completely covered with a thick layer of golden leaves. I'm not sure why there were so many. I guess it comes from the leaves that land on the roof and blow into the pathway. In any case, there must have been three times as many leaves on the side of the house than there were out front! It still only took me about a half-hour, but it was a good work-out. I love raking leaves. It's such good, solid work, it gets me outside, and it feels so...crisp. It was really a beautiful day today, too, mid-50s, with crisp, fall-smelling air and wavery sunshine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saluting the Season and Our Veterans

First of all, I give a shout-out to all our fighting men past and present on what turned out to be a gorgeous Veteran's Day. I did my first volunteering at the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop in Collingswood in a long time. I mostly took down jeans and sweaters that had holes in them or were too pilled or stretched or out-of-date. I ended up buying a nice leather purse with a long strap and a cool diamond pattern made of leather rope on the front for my winter purse, two packs of Christmas cards (I know I was running low last year), a never-worn white turtleneck (I got rid of my white turtleneck last year - it was huge and had been around since high school), a jazz CD, and a book on career changes for unusual and creative people. Erica wants me to come over sometime for a game of Monopoly with her mother and a chat - I may just take her up on that offer.

I made a brief stop at Rite Aid to see if they had any tissues (none cheap) and at WaWa for a drink (French Vanilla Cappuccino - I was feeling the effects of staying up really late last night with Lauren) before heading home. I grabbed my laundry basket and went straight back out again to Uncle Ken's for this week's laundry session. Dad and Uncle Ken were home when I got in. The former was just finishing packing up the Halloween decorations and putting them away for the year. (Dad has mentioned that Uncle Ken isn't much for holidays and that any seasonal decorating usually falls to him.) Both seemed to be fine but tired. Dad had just come from raking leaves, and Uncle Ken's been seeing medical treatment.

I ate pasta salad, the first food I'd had since breakfast, while finally asking Dad what he's and the family here are doing for Thanksgiving. He told me something to the effect that Jodie had suggested a buffet but Uncle Ken nixed the idea, so now they're debating going to Karen and Jim's. I'll have to call Rose, but I'm definitely leaning towards going to Cape May County for Thanksgiving. I haven't seen my stepfather in over a year, and I haven't seen his and Mom's new house in Erma at all.

Instead of watching cartoons or running errands while the laundry was in the dryer, I finally got to raking the front yard. I love raking. It feels great to be able to do something to help my landlady, something that's good, genuine WORK, not just standing behind a register. It took me two hours, but I managed to get the entire front yard but the small bit of land to the right of the driveway done. I'll do the path to my apartment and that last bit of land tomorrow evening after work (if I'm not asked to stay later).

After the last load of leaves was on the curb, I returned the rake and tarp used to transport the leaves to Miss Ellie's porch and hurried back to Dad's to get the laundry. After that was put away, I went downstairs to talk to Miss Ellie after she came home from work. She suggested putting the $25 I earned today and the last time I raked the side path towards my rent instead of in cash. I agreed it was a sensible idea. I could probably knock a little more down doing the rest tomorrow. I was so tired after running around all day (and so broke), I spent the rest of the evening at home, eating a simple dinner of whatever was in my fridge and watching the Donald Duck Army and World War II propaganda cartoons (which I always do for Memorial and Veteran's Day).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Autumn Balance

It was windy and chilly but sunny when I headed to Yogawood for today's class. With most area kids off from school today, many people who usually attend the class are busy taking care of their little ones. There were only seven people in class today, counting Jill. On one hand, it was really rather pleasant. You could sweep your arms out without bumping elbows, and with fewer people to pull ranks, I was briefly able to chat with a few of the women after the class.

On the other hand, I'm still having some difficulty with a few moves. I still can't do head or shoulder stands, or anything that involves long shoulder support or lifting onto my shoulders. I guess they just aren't that strong. I can get on my legs as long as I don't have to try to bend my knees too hard, but I don't work my arms as much as my legs.

I debated doing the laundry when I got home, but I decided I didn't really want to rush it. I have tomorrow off, so I figured I'd do it then. I remembered that tomorrow's Veteran's Day while on a short walk to Doria's Deli for sliced turkey. I was going to do the library after helping Erica out in the thrift shop in Collingswood tomorrow, but the library won't be open, so I'll do my laundry and rake the leaves in the front yard (which are really bad) tomorrow instead. I spent the rest of the afternoon after I got in doing stuff online and editing this month's Monkees role-play.

Work was steady, with no major problems other than my relief was late. One of the managers was nice enough to step in for me. It was still very windy on my way to work, but the wind had subsided by the time I got home, and I had a fairly pleasant ride to and from the Acme.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Blue and Gold Autumn

After almost a week of clouds and showers, it was wonderful to awaken to a gorgeous, sunny fall morning. It was about 55 degrees, just right for this time of year, and while it was a bit windy, it wasn't gale-force. I had a lovely ride to work and a lovely ride home. Work was steady, though not as busy as yesterday. Even so, I managed to pick up an extra hour when one of the teenagers called out.

I'm still feeling a little down. I don't know what I'm going to do, with Christmas coming and all. I called Mom today for the usual catching-up, but she didn't help much. She was at home, making a pork shoulder. Dad was out fishing and Keefe was out with friends. I know she's lonely, but she turned down all my suggestions for ways to get out of the house and do something. (Do I do that, too?) Otherwise, she was in a good mood. She wanted to know what I'm doing for Thanksgiving. At this point, I have no idea. I won't know until Dad comes back and I can ask him what the family here is doing, what with Uncle Ken sick and all.

Even a walk around the neighborhood after work didn't help. It was no fault of the weather, or of the stunning multi-colored foliage. I feel pretty lonely myself. I know other people say they're having trouble, with this bad economy, but I've never met them. Everyone else has someone they can talk to who can relate to them. Someone who is always there, who will come home from work that night. I'm the only person my age in Oaklyn who always comes home to an empty house. I feel like I can't relate to anyone in town. It would be easier to talk to people if they were less busy, if they'd just say "sure, I'll come over to your house for an hour or two." If they didn't have the dog to walk, the children to take care of, errands to run, work to do.

And though they've fought hard, at press time the Philadelphia Eagles are losing to the New York Giants 30-24.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This Is The Way We Bake Our Bread

It was a very quiet day today. I spent the morning at work, which was very busy, with no major problems. I bought salsa after I finished (I used up the last of my old bottle with last night's quesadila), then headed home. This morning's weather was the same as yesterday's - damp, gloomy, cloudy, and slightly warm for this time of year. Everything was wet when I came out of work, so I assumed it rained while I was in there, but I got home dry long before the next shower began.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on editing the Monkees role-play (look for that this weekend or early next week), watching the 1961 Disney Babes In Toyland, listening to records (finally got around to the election-themed One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band), and baking rye bread. Alas, my bread didn't rise enough. It's edible, just a tad flat. I think the water I dissolved the yeast in was too hot.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Economic Crisis

Today turned out to be as bland as the gloomy, gray weather. I spent the morning running errands at the Acme and in the shopping center behind it. I stopped briefly at FYE to see if they had any of the new WebKinz (nope) before moving on to Wal-Mart. I looked at coats and jeans but only ended up getting a new bra for me (which I really needed) and a hat and gloves for my brother Keefe's birthday on November 18th. He told me he wanted a "beanie," and I'm not exactly sure what he meant, but I hope he meant a beanie-type hat. People always need winter hats, and I know Keefe has a tendency to lose his.

I made quick stops after that at Avenue and Fashion Bug to look at their winter coats. They were having great sales, but I couldn't find any coats to my liking. They were either too heavy, not waterproof, or lacking a hood. I went to the Acme to do my grocery shopping for the week. Even with a couple of good sales (and one box of Fiber One Granola Bars that accidentally came out to $.30 instead of $3.00, and thanks to the person who made THAT mistake), I still spent $27.

I don't have much money right now. I still haven't paid my rent. My landlady Miss Ellie is really cool about it, but I don't want to push her generosity. I'll give her what I can and just tell her I'll give her the rest when I get it. I know I should just as Dad or Uncle Ken for help, but I hate having to do that. It's a matter of pride. I'm very proud of being able to live on my own, especially having spent my childhood being told I'd never be able to do that. I cherish my independence, which is why I have such a hard time with asking for help. I'd rather do something myself. Anyway, this is my own fault. If I'd saved my money, instead of buying junk and DVDs all the time, I'd have some now.

After I got in and put everything away, I went for a walk to the bank to deposit my paycheck and to WaWa for milk. It didn't rain again, but the day remained blah, damp, and chilly. Even running into a rare Friday yard sale across from the Acme and picking up three calico fabric pumpkins and a dress for my Cabbage Patch Kid Dulcie didn't improve my mood. I'm really angry with myself over not saving more money and getting off my rear end and meeting people who can point me in the direction of a good, solid job.

I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning. I just vacuumed the house, changed the sheets, and did some mild dusting. I'll get more into the cleaning at the end of this month, before I put up Christmas decorations. I made a beef quesildilla and spinach salad for dinner and listened to Joe Cocker and Led Zepplin.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Out and About

No, this wasn't the nicest day to be out running around, but I really didn't have much of a choice. I had counseling at 1PM, and everyone I know was either at work, school, or the doctor's office. Anyway, it wasn't too horrible of a ride. It showered on and off all day, but never so heavily that I spent the day dripping. I brought an old pair of pants that were WAY too big to me to the Thrift Shop and browsed around the store for a while, then went to the Collingswood Library to look up fairy tales to give me inspiration for the Monkees Role Play Lauren and I are currently working on.

After a Turkey Club Wrap at Saladworks, I went a few blocks down Haddon Avenue to Genesis Counseling for this month's session. Scott and I mostly discussed why I can't seem to look for a job and my fear of talking to the other women in my yoga classes. I know he's right and that I should look for what we have in common, but it seems so hard when they all bunch into groups and start talking about their children, and people who don't have children or husbands or decent jobs might as well not exist.

I don't agree with Scott's idea of trying to look into bookstores again for some extra holiday work. First of all, I have enough to do during the holidays without adding more running around. Second, I tried getting a job in the Philly bookstores over a year ago. I kept going back and going back for months. I put in applications with FYE, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. I kept getting told to "come back later." "Come back in the spring. Come back when the College Students return. Come back in the fall. Come back during the holidays. Come back after the holidays." They made it quite clear that they had absolutely no interest in me. I think Scott's wrong. They just want cute little college students who can work for nothing, not someone who needs a paycheck. Besides, I need a job that will last for more than a few months. I need something permanent.

I spent the rest of the afternoon running errands. It rained lightly again after I got out of counseling, but let up by the time I made it to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session. I organized the children's DVDs and helped several families find titles. One little boy wanted Scooby Doo (and took so long decided which one to take, his mother had to drag him away). An early grade-school-age girl chose Barbie as the Island Princess. After I finished the DVDs, I put the adult DVDs away and stacked children's books that need to be put away on a cart to do later.

It was late at that point and the weather still looked iffy, so I made a brief stop at Super Fresh for fresh carrots and headed home across Newton River Park. I don't think it's rained since then, but it remains cloudy, damp, and too warm for this time of year.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Glory of Fall

Riding to work was very "fall-ish" this morning. It was gray but not raining, damp, and still a tad warm for this time of year. The heavy winds blew torrents of leaves in magnificent shades of red, orange, gold, brown, and green around me and my bike as I headed up the Black Horse Pike to the Acme for my last work session until (as of this second) Saturday morning.

Work was still a bit of a pain today. While not nearly as busy as yesterday, we still had a lot more people than usual, especially for the middle of the week, and those beginning-of-the-month people were still annoying. I really, REALLY wish people would learn how to freakin' count! We had more people getting rid of half their orders because they assumed they wouldn't cost as much as they did. Read the signs and you'll know how much things cost!

The rest of the day was quiet. My relief was late and I didn't really get home with enough time to do the windows and vacuum as I'd planned, so I worked on editing our newest Monkees role-play story instead and kicked off my holiday season with the Mikhail Barishnicov version of The Nutcracker.

Incidentally, this month's Monkees story is the long NaNoWrite story, so you'll be seeing it in parts. Look for the first six or seven parts or so this weekend!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote For Anyone

I spent the majority of today at work...and it's just as well that I did. We were NUTS today! Everyone must have come straight to the Acme from the polls. I worked all day and never really got a chance to get to the polls myself, I'm afraid. We had tons of people, tons of big orders, and tons of OBNOXIOUS people. One woman and her daughter ended up putting back half their order, even though they probably had enough money to cover it! Another bought two orders, the second consisting of Stouffer's meals she had to switch around. She only bought the second one to use these five-dollar coupons that come out of the coupon machine...and those coupons are good until Thanksgiving Day! (Not to mention an order consisting of frozen meals is NOT that expensive.)

I ran a couple of election-themed TV show episodes before and after work. Mike Nesmith throws his green wool hat into California's political ring in the early second season Monkees episode "Monkee Mayor" in order to save the homes of several elderly neighbors. Balki runs for student council in the sixth season Perfect Strangers episode "See How They Run," but campaign manager Larry goes overboard, as usual. Hilary Booth and Jeff Singer run against each other for Pittsburgh City Council in the mid-second season Remember WENN episode "Strange Bedfellows" and learn that politics is a full-time job. Mary Richards finds out what happens after an official is elected...and that the public's choice isn't always the right one...when a particularly incompetent city official appears on her talk show in "His Two Right Arms," the second season finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

School elections and politics are spoofed nicely in You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, one of the better later Peanuts specials. Though Charlie Brown is initially nominated for Student President, as suggested in the title, he simply (and not surprisingly) isn't popular enough. Linus steps in as Lucy tries everything from radio programs (how did Snoopy get away with running that show when he wasn't even allowed on school grounds?) to threats to make sure her brother wins. The election looks like a lock, until Linus starts making speeches about his favorite subject, The Great Pumpkin.

And, at press time, Obama is winning the Presidential Race, according to Yahoo!'s home page.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Of Mice, Backyardigans, and the Quest for Balance

Began today with this week's Yogawood class. It was cloudy, cool, and damp when I went out this morning, though not as cool as yesterday. It was a mid-sized class, not really big or small. A lot of people are probably busy with things put off over the busy weekend or rallies for one political candidate or the other.

(Which reminds me, allow me to say right here that I'm neutral. I'm not endorsing one candidate or the other. I have no interest in politics whatsoever.)

I wish I were better with balance. I still can't stand on one foot for very long, especially on the right side. I still can't go upside-down, either. I guess my shoulders just aren't strong enough. I also lack control. I can't lower myself to the floor without flopping.

I went straight home after class. I went straight over to Uncle Ken's after I got in for this week's laundry session. I had the house to myself, a rare thing. Dad's still on the ocean, Uncle Ken and Dolores had doctor's appointments, Jodie was at work, and Jessa was at school. I watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while the laundry was in the washer. Mickey and the gang spoofed fairy tales today. Poor Donald accidentally drinks a potion made by Professor Ludwig Von Drake that turns him into a frog. In order to change him back, they have to take him to Princess Daisy, who is being held in a tall tower by Big Pete. I especially loved how they had to talk Daisy into kissing Donald at the end. (She wouldn't kiss a frog! Eeewww!)

After I tossed the laundry in the dryer, I switched over to Nickelodeon for The Backyardigans. Turned out to be one of the new episodes, "Blazing Paddles." The show's third or fourth (I believe) Western-themed episode is a parody of Lone Ranger-style oaters. Sheriff Uniqua is the law in peaceful Ping Pong Mesa, where everyone, including bartender Tyrone, dance hall hostess Miss Tasha, and bar patron Austin the Kid are crazy about ping-pong. No one can out-play the Sheriff...until Pablo the Ping Pong Bandit rides into town with his crazy Bandit SlamIt move! The kids all lose their paddles to Pablo. Even Uniqua can't get past it, and she finds herself stripped of her paddle and out of a job. She vows to find a way to practice until she's can come up with a move of her own that will defeat Pablo and teach him that no Backyardigan is an island...and it's no fun playing ping-pong alone.

I finally made it to the bank after The Backyardigans ended. I'd been meaning to get to the bank all weekend, but I never had the chance. The weather had warmed up a little, maybe slightly too much so for this time of year but not that bad. The neighborhood was really beautiful. The trees are amazing this year, bursting into every shade of fall color imaginable, from soft gold to blazing orange-red. The clouds subsided at one point, but they came back a bit later, and it's been cloudy ever since.

I got back in time for the first half of The Wonder Pets. Everyone's favorite trio of animal rescuers headed for the Swiss Alps to save a group of sheep from going off a cliff. There was some fun with the setting, including lederhosen for everyone and a cute reference to The Sound of Music. (And let's just say seeing a hamster, a turtle, and a very excitable chick in lederhosen was...interesting.)

It didn't take very long to get ready for work after I finished off the laundry, brought it home, and put it away. I just had to throw together celery and a ham and spinach sandwich for dinner and change into my uniform, then it was off to the Acme. Work was, other than some mildly annoying beginning-of-the-month people, not a problem, and I was in and out without a fuss.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Out of the Loop

Sigh. Today was ultimately frustrating, though it ended well. I really wish I knew more people. I had earlier work than usual on a Sunday, but it was busy and went well. I was hoping to watch the 4:15 Eagles-Seahawks game at Uncle Ken's afterwards, but Uncle Ken is beginning treatments for a life-threatening disease tomorrow. He and Dolores were going out to watch the game instead, and no one else was around. That left me alone. Again.

Sometimes, being alone is no big deal, but there are just times when I want to be around people. Like today, for instance. I was looking forward to at least being able to talk to Mark, Uncle Ken, Dolores, and Jodie and share my Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with them. I knew Uncle Ken has his treatments tomorrow, but I thought SOMEONE might be around.

Of course I was wrong. I'm always wrong. Frustrated, I went for a walk after I collapsed in my kitchen for a good long cry. It was a beautiful afternoon, a little nippy but not bad, and sunny as can be. Oaklyn and the Camden County Area are absolutely beautiful at this time of year. My porch is so full of golden leaves, I feel like I'm living in Uncle Scrooge's money bin. I followed the train tracks, just to see where they went. After a slightly nerve-wracking cross over the train bridge, I came out in West Collingswood. I passed by historic homes and apartment buildings and found myself at a nice park, where children played on a playground during what looked like the tail end of a birthday party (from all those Backyardigans balloons on the old Train Station building).

I just kept walking across a neighborhood filled with lovely old houses, down to the Black Horse Pike. I rarely come down that way, so it was a nice walk. I ended up back on Kendall Boulevard, then went home. I debated going out to eat, but it was getting late, and I really didn't want to watch the game in some noisy bar. I ended up listening to it on WIP Sports Radio while having a corn muffin and a messed-up spinach and mushroom omelet for dinner. (For some reason, the eggs stuck to the pan despite the application of much Pam. Good thing I wasn't that hungry anyway.)

Oh, and the Eagles apparently began badly but finally beat the Seahawks 26-7, which pushes them past the injury-plagued Cowboys and into third place in the NFC East, behind the Redskins and Daddy's beloved Giants (who did their part, walloping the Cowboys today).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Cleaning Days

I finally got to cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen today after putting it off for most of the week. Both rooms were really scuzzy. I've never seen the bathroom sink this bad. I shouldn't have put it off for so long, but I kept running out of time earlier in the week. I also took down the Halloween decorations and put up what I have for Thanksgiving. I know it's kind of early, but I really have no desire for Halloween to linger this year. Oh, and I pumped my bike tires. The mountain bike was really low, and since I did one, I figured I'd do the other.

Other than that, this was a fairly quiet day. I worked early, 9 to 2, and other than the usual obnoxious beginning-of-the-month people, there were no problems. I did some grocery shopping after I finished work. I needed to restock my fruit, celery, yogurt, yeast, butter, plastic storage bags, and applesauce.

I watched the Strawberry Shortcake DVDs this morning while eating a bowl of Total. I really liked Rockaberry Roll, which sees the comeback of the kids' pets and several characters from the earlier stories who were MIA in Big Country Fun, notably Huckleberry Pie, Peppermint Fizz, and Rainbow Sherbet. In the first one, Strawberry, Angel Cake, Ginger Snap, and Orange Blossom start a band, but can't figure out how to play together. Peppermint Fizz joins the girls in the second story. She can play the trumpet...but not very well. We learn a little about why Peppermint acted like a brat in earlier episodes. Like me, she simply lacks confidence. The kids play a trick to help her feel better, but it only causes more problems. Strawberry finally gets her practicing instead (and gets around her tendency to be lazy), and while she'll take a lot more time to be a virtuoso, it's good enough to make sweet harmony with the rest of Strawberryland.