Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Road to the Super Bowl

Not surprisingly, work was really busy today. Not only is the Super Bowl tomorrow, but it's the end of the month, and a lot of people will be receiving money and/or food stamps soon. Thankfully, there were no problems, and I was out on time.

There was a problem with the schedule for next week. They'd given me the wrong day off. I asked for Thursday off for counseling, but they gave me Friday off instead. They were able to smooth things out when one of the teenage boys who had the same hours (2PM - 6PM) on Thursday was willing to switch with me.

There was still a lot of ice on the ground when I went to work at 9:30 this morning, but by the time I got out, around quarter after 3, most of the ice was gone from sunny areas. It'll take a bit longer for the ice around my apartment, which is constantly in the shade, to disappear.

I spent the rest of a very quiet evening putting up the Valentine's Day decorations and working on editing the Monkees role play. We just started the next story a few days ago. Look for it in about two weeks!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chickening Out

I spent most of my only day off this week running errands. I went to the Acme to pick up my paycheck and a few grocery items, mostly produce - grapefruit, escarole, bananas, and a bag of lovely Gala apples that's cheaper than buying them individually. I also picked up the generic Acme Cheerios (on sale, and cheaper than the real thing even at the regular price) and the 18-count eggs that were on sale as well. I received a surprise when I picked up my paycheck. A Chick Fil'A just opened in the lot that used to be the home of the International House of Pancakes, and all Acme employees were given a coupon for a free chicken sandwich. I'm not a big fast-food fan, but I figured, free food is free food, so I headed over to Chick Fil'A next.

The Chick Fil'A has been a very popular spot this week. Apparently, they're giving out freebies all over the place in honor of their opening, including free meals for the first 200 customers or something. There was a picture of people camped out - in the freezing, snowy weather - waiting for the doors to open Thursday morning! It's amazing what people will do for a free lunch. As for my free lunch, it wasn't much. It was just the regular Chicken Sandwich, which was just a piece of fried chicken on the usual role with two big pickle slices. At the very least (and unlike McDonald's and Burger King's chicken sandwiches), it looked and tasted like real chicken. Not bad, but really could have used some condiments or actual vegetables.

(Incidentally, this is the first free-standing Chick Fil'A I've ever seen. The only Chick Fil'A's I'd seen before this were always in mall food courts. There's one in the Hamilton Mall, one in the Deptford Mall, and the one at the Voorhees Town Center where Amanda and I ate at in October. I didn't even know there WERE freestanding Chick Fil'As.)

After I went home, I put everything away and added an apple to my not-exactly-healthy lunch, then went back out again, this time headed for the bank and the Haddon Township Library. I had an even harder time making my away around in Westmont than on Kendall Boulevard and Manor Avenue. The sides and most of the sidewalks on Cuthbert Road, one of the busiest streets in Haddon Township, were covered with ice. I found myself riding rather precariously on the busy street, trying to avoid speeding vehicles and small piles of frozen snow chunks.

The library was busy, too. Most of the kids had just let out of school, and I found myself helping quite a few youngsters find DVDs. We're still clearing PG-rated DVDs out of the children's section, too. I found the live-action Scooby Doo sequal, Ice Age-The Meltdown, and The Neverending Story II, among others. It took a while for me to get everything done today. There were piles of just-returned DVDs, both kids' and adults', to be put away.

I stopped quickly at Super Fresh afterwards. I didn't get what I was looking for, which was peanut butter, but I did find pudding, whipped topping, and graham cracker crusts on good sales. Great! I decided to make a pudding pie for Uncle Ken's Super Bowl party. Unlike the Acme earlier that day, which had been steady, Super Fresh was stone-cold-dead by the time I arrived.

Oh, and I got a notice from Turbo Tax saying my tax return went through and the check will be arriving in about two weeks. God, I hope it's sooner. The check arrived a lot earlier than they posted last year, and please let that be true again. I really need the money. My rent is going to be late again (though hopefully not as late as December).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taxed Out

Spent most of today doing my taxes. It wouldn't have taken nearly as long if Turbo Tax hadn't been a pain. I wanted to do their free Basic, but it kept putting me on Deluxe, despite saying I didn't want Deluxe. I ended up having to start another account to get the free return, but I did get it. My taxes don't take very long to do. I'm single, rent my apartment, and have one job and no dependents. All I have to report is my interest from my college loans. It takes me about 20 minutes to do my taxes, and that's counting printing the return form.

I had a hard time getting to and from work. My porch and steps are clear...but the path leading to my apartment is one big icy mess. The sidewalks are even worse - I had to ride in the street, including on the Black Horse Pike. The Acme parking lot hasn't been completely cleared, either, though it looks 100 times better than it did yesterday.

Thank goodness, after all that, work was no problem. We had a few mildly cranky people (it is almost the beginning of the month), but other than that, we were steady-to-dead all night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let There Be Slush

It was a white and gray world that met my eyes when I woke up this morning. There was nothing but snow as far as the eye could see...including on my porch. I wasn't looking forward to going to work. I cheered myself up with some snow-related cartoons, among them two Looney Tunes ("Frigid Hare" and "Putty Tat Trouble,") three Donald Duck cartoons ("Hockey Champ," "Polar Trappers," and the infamous "Donald's Snow Fight") and a Garfield and Friends sequence, "Cabin Fever."

I was hoping the rain really would clear out the snow by the time I went to work at 11AM...but there was a LOT more snow than anyone expected, probably about five or six inches (we were only expecting one or two at the most). The rain only made everything icy and sloppy. I ended up calling Uncle Ken and Dad for a ride. Uncle Ken was slightly late, and I so was I. The regular salt I put on my steps had done nothing but make salty snow, and I had to lower myself down my steps again. Much to my surprise, the Acme's parking lot, which HAD been heavily salted, was in even worse condition. I was slightly late, but we were dead and it really wasn't that big of a deal. It was on-and-off steady for most of the day. (Rather surprisingly, there were few call-outs, and my relief was on time.)

I made a quick run to FYE after that. I've been trying to save my money, but I did want the new 2-disc set for Mary Poppins that supposedly had info on the Broadway show, and I've wanted those new WebKinz. I did pick up Mary Poppins and a WebKinz Groundhog. The kid there suggested the Dragon, but somehow the weather seemed to call for a Groundhog. (And besides, that plump little fellow is just too cute!) Dad eventually picked me up, revealing that yes, Jessa was out of school today. Her Catholic high school has students from all over the Camden County area and closes at the least sight of bad weather. (From what my customers said, most other kids in the area had delayed openings.)

Spent the rest of the evening watching Mary Poppins and making Banana-Dark Chocolate Chip Bread. One of my neighbors finally came over and shoveled the remaining snow/slush on my steps and porch around quarter of five. I'm still glad I worked early. No matter how hard it was to get downstairs this morning, I really don't want to be out there when all that slush turns into ice!

Oh, and meet Phil the Groundhog! Our local weather forecaster is going to move in with Rocky the Squirrel in his Farm Room.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Update

As I began my WebKinz session (I played games with Marza the Panda tonight), I happened to look out my window...and see that everything was white again. Yes, it's snowing, good and thick and fast. It's not supposed to last (it's supposed to change into sleet by morning, then freezing rain, and then just rain), but it looks very pretty and cozy right now.
Between Snow and a Cold Place

There was some snow on the ground when I got up this morning. It wasn't really much, certainly not enough to warrant yesterday's fuss. The sky, however, remained pale gray all day, almost white, a good indication that more snow is on the way. I did my laundry this morning and ran to WaWa for skim milk and Doria's Deli for brown sugar while the laundry was in the dryer. Dad, Uncle Ken, and Dolores were all home. Dad was puttering around on the computer, as always. The other two were doing chores. Dad had The Weather Channel on when I got in from my errands. He said things may get very messy tomorrow, with freezing rain and sleet in addition to snow here. Swell. Tomorrow WOULD be one of my two early work days this week.

Speaking of work, that was a bit crazy when I came in. Not only was it busy, thanks to the weather reports, but one of the morning cashiers had called out and they were short-handed. There were no call-outs in the evening and we gradually got more help as the night went on. Good thing, too, because it remained busy. It was STILL busy when I left, mostly people hoping to grab one last item before the storm hits.

I rode to and from work with no problems. By the time I went to work, almost all of the snow from last night was gone, and while I felt tiny drops of SOMETHING on my way home, at press time everything is still dry here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chilled Balance

My ride to Yogawood was chilly but nice, with sunshine, a few stray clouds, and no wind. Class was mid-sized, with about 10 people counting Jill the teacher, and not as big as I figured it would be on a Monday morning. It wasn't as hard as the last few weeks, either, no fancy balancing poses. I'm wondering if I can't do the crow pose (squat down and lean on your hands and shoulders) yet because I'm afraid? Afraid of falling, afraid of hurting myself, afraid I literally won't be able to shoulder my huge, elephant-sized frame.

I didn't stick around in Collingswood after class this time. I don't have a lot of money and I still need skim milk and buttermilk. (I'll get the skim milk tomorrow when I do my laundry.) I rode straight home and spent the rest of the afternoon updating my finances. The check for the dentist's office went through, but not the ones for my bills yet. I wanted to see just how much money I have in the bank and how late my rent will be this time. I got my W-2 at work today, so I should be able to do my taxes this week and relieve some of that money trouble.

Work was steady-to-busy, not surprising given the weather reports. Right now, it's saying we may get 1-4 inches of snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain starting tomorrow evening. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quiet Sunday

I spent a very quiet morning. I slept in, made banana pancakes, listened to the Beatles show on WOGL (Magical Mystery Tour was the theme of the day), finished The Four Story Mistake, and talked to my mother. Mom was also spending a quiet morning puttering around the kitchen. Keefe was still sleeping (at quarter of 11) and Dad had gone to work. She mostly fussed about the cold weather. They're not used to really cold weather down in Cape May County. It seldom drops under the mid-30s there, probably because of the ocean. It was cold here, too, only in the lower 30s, but sunny and windless.

Work was very busy, but otherwise not much of a problem. It seldom is on a Sunday. I was in and out on time. (My relief was late, but the kid who was supposed to come in is always late because of his other job, and it was slow enough by then that I didn't have to wait for him.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Seeing Is Believing

I spent the morning doing the usual errands and grocery shopping. I went to Staples to look at prices for USB data save things, but I'm really trying hard to not dip into my savings. I just walked out with a set of DVD-R discs so I can save videos from my digital camera. I peeked at FYE; they do have the new WebKinz I wanted, but I'm going to hold off there until the new 2-disc set of Mary Poppins I want comes out on Tuesday and I get my next paycheck. I looked at a shoe store, but I didn't see any good sales on cheap sneakers.

I didn't really need much at the Acme, so I wasn't there for very long. I came home with yogurt, peanut butter, Apricot fruit spread, grapefruit, bananas, celery, and ham and collard greens for dinner. After everything was put away, I ran back out to the bank quickly, then came back home and worked on a recipe for French Bread made with egg whites.

While the bread rose, I worked on another project. I made Lauren the first 12-minute video clip using my digital camera. I'm not going to post it here tonight. I really made it for her, and it's taking long enough to upload as it is. I'll post everything when I finally upload everything. I didn't realize how long it would take for these files to get on here! This is why I don't like all this fancy technology. Why should it take so long to upload? It's supposed to be "high speed" internet, right? I like things better when they come out right away, like film and Polaroids.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Promise of Spring

I spent most of today inside, working on editing the most recent short stories Lauren and I have written, doing some updating on my computer, and baking. Since I still had a little buttermilk left, I tried one of the cookie recipes in The Betty Crocker Cooky Book that required buttermilk, the Cinnamon Jumbles. Apparently popular in the 1890s, the cookies were simple to make and turned out to be quite tasty little morsels, almost like baked mini-donuts rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

I opened the front door while the cookies were baking to see what the weather was like...and was hit with warmth. It was at least 45 or 50 degrees outside, and sunny as could be. After the last batch of cookies finished, I decided to take advantage of the nice day and make a quick trip to CVS for a few items. I wasn't the only one who was out this afternoon, either. I passed by a couple with young children, two in a stroller, and many kids lingering on corners and curbs, taking advantage of the nice weather to put off going home from the Oaklyn Elementary School on the end of West Clinton Avenue.

When I got home, I worked on getting my bills together and clearing out last year's papers. I made dinner, changed my shirt, and headed to my late work shift, 5-9. Despite my annoyance and worry that it would be a pain, it was actually dead for most of the night. It's supposed to get much colder and windier in the next few days.

Oh, and the last book in my Barnes and Noble gift card order finally arrived. The Melendy kids move into their beloved country home in the second book in the series, The Four Story Mistake. I'm going to miss this crew after I finish this book - I wish there was lots more of them. These stories are so much fun!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Cutest Little Lab In Town

Today was Library Volunteering Day. They're still weeding the PG movies out of the kids' section. I found a couple more. Pulled the recent CGI version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and something called Zoom: Academy For Super Heroes. Pulling the live-action Scooby Doo proved to be a bit more complicated. The library has a ton of Scooby Doo DVDs, but the movie has some mild violence and gross-out gags and really does earn it's PG rating. (I took Keefe to see it when it was in the theaters. It's fine for older kids, but not for the little guys.) I left it with them and will see what they say next week.

After browsing quickly through AC Moore and Super Fresh, I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous, 40-degree day and ride over to Willie the Woodsman and Wife's to see if they have the new Emperor Dragon or Groundhog WebKinz yet. Nope, but I found a Lil'Kinz Black Lab who is just as cute. I named him Max, after my dad's girlfriend's black lab. The money he came with bought furniture to rearrange the "Lab House" where Max and Nelson the Yellow Lab live and to start a new room in the Asian theme for the upcoming Emperor Dragon and my panda Marza. (She used to share Miles the Black Bear's original room. He's now a single guy again, though he did keep her baseball dresser after I moved her stuff to the Asian one.)

I saw a new little restaurant that specializes in sandwiches and soups two doors down from Willie the Woodsman and Wife's the last time I was there (buying that snowman for Lauren back in late November), but had no time (or money) to try it. I decided to amend that. The small room was a curious blend of the rustic (wicker and glass tables up front, country crockery, old silverware, worn bare wood floor) and the 50s diner (vintage metal-trimmed vinyl tables and chairs, a small counter where the cash register was, 50s posters, a hanging featuring 50s icons). The soup was ordered day-by-day. Each day had a different listing of soups (including one "soup of the day"). There was another menu of sandwiches, drinks, and sides on the back. I ordered a large cup of Italian Wedding Soup, two breadsticks, and a can of Diet A&W Root Beer. It was excellent. I love Italian Wedding Soup, and this was much better than anything from a can, with huge chunks of escarole and meatballs the size of golf balls. The breadsticks were huge, too, and warm with melted garlic butter. I had a wonderful lunch. I hope the place doesn't go away too soon. At any rate, they seemed to be having good business when I was there. An older woman and two Yuppie women came in for sandwiches, and two or three other people had take-out.

I browsed Act Two Collectibles next door, but only came out with a Bob Seeger record. I rode back down to Market Street in Audubon. I stopped for a cupcake and a chat with the owner and operator of Desserts by Design. I was going to say "hi" to Bob at Abbie Road, which is a block down from Desserts, but he had a sign in his window saying he was going to be out for 15 minutes. I didn't feel like waiting around, so I just headed home.

I spent the rest of the evening working on editing some of our most recent Monkees role play short stories. Look for them in the next week or so!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Split Balance

Did Yogawood this morning. It was a surprisingly full class for a very cold Wednesday morning. Maybe I wasn't the only person who avoided the Monday class due to the weather? Good thing I showed up a little early this time. I was able to get a seat up front. They were really sardine-packed, with over 20 men and women.

There were a lot of really difficult moves today, including a few we'd never tried. One involved getting down on your knees, and eventually into a split. Forget that. First of all, my left knee had an absolute screaming fit. Second, I'm still overweight and not nearly limber enough for any split besides the banana variety. I did Child's Pose instead.

I browsed Collingswood after that. The only thing I ended up buying was a birthday present at the thrift shop. There were still no new WebKinz at the Collingswood Variety Store. I'm hoping to go to Audubon tomorrow anyway. I want to at least find that new Emperor Dragon, or maybe the Groundhog. (The latter would certainly be appropriate this close to Pennsylvania.) Willie the Woodsman and Wife doesn't have the selection or the sheer stock that the larger Collingswood Variety Store does, but they have better prices and carry more rarities, including Lil'Kinz, bookmarks, stationary, and seasonal items. Not to mention, they almost always get the new stuff first.

Spent the rest of the afternoon editing three of the short stories Lauren and I worked on. (The January Monkees Role Play went up late last week - I forgot to mention that here.) It was still cold and a little icy when I headed to work, but I made it there and back with no problems.

Work was mostly on-and-off busy. The only real problem was late in the evening, about an hour before I left. An older woman tried to pay for a gift card and her order with a check, but the check wouldn't go through, and it took us three tries before a manager told us you can't pay for a gift card with a check. Turned out she didn't have the money on her to pay for the actual order, so she and the three noisy kids with her, just left. I'm glad she was really good about it, but it was annoying.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic Inauguration

I did get to see bits and pieces of today's historic Presidential Inauguration. I watched about 20 minutes of it before I went to Dad and Uncle Ken's to do my laundry and a half-hour after I came back around 12:30. No, I didn't get to see the parade or Obama be sworn in. Dad and Uncle Ken were watching their usual 24 hours of nothing but thrillers and crime shows, and I didn't want to tell them what to watch on their TVs. If they wanted to miss history, that was on them. And alas, by the time the parade started, I was at work.

I still got to see enough to make me feel like I saw history. I've seen some history on TV before. I was five when the Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1985. Not that I cared at the time; I was more upset that they pre-empted The Price Is Right to cover the explosion and NASA's reaction. I was far more interested when the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989. I still remember seeing all those people yanking away at it clear as day, even on my little black and white TV. And of course, I was in college when 9/11 happened. Ironically, I was in a class on 20th century American history when the Towers were hit. I didn't find out until I went to work at the Stockton Media Center, by which time they were almost on the ground.

As for today, I could have done with fewer talking heads and more actual footage (this is why I don't watch network or cable news more often). I did get to see former President Bush leave Washington for Texas (not a moment too soon, if you ask me) and the beginning of the Inaugural Lunch.

Work was, in the opposite of the last few days, dead when I came in and when I left, but busy during the usual rush hour, by which time most Inaugural festivities were over or nearly so. A lot of people apparently called out this morning, either due to family trouble or the Inauguration, but there was no trouble whatsoever by the time I was there. Other than it was a little windy and icy going home, I had no trouble getting to or from work.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter Blunderland

It snowed overnight. There was enough snow on my porch this morning that I decided not to chance heading to Yogawood. I'll do it Wednesday or Friday. After breakfast, I finished putting up the rest of the general Winter decorations - cardboard prints of snowmen doing outdoor sports, two huge crepe-paper snowflakes that were hung off the many random nails in the living room walls, a tin shaped like a bear in a checked winter coat, and the winter doll display on top of the large bookshelf in the bed room.

I was working on my budget (and figuring out how much I spent last month) around 11AM, when I noticed it had started snowing again, this time a little harder. I did need milk, so I decided I'd go out and pick some up before the weather got worse. I'd forgotten to put my key in my pocket, as I usually do first thing in the morning, since I didn't go to Yogawood. Of course, I realized this just as I stepped out of the locked door.

I was able to go to WaWa and get the milk, but not only did I have work at 1:30, I needed to get a snack, change into my work shirt, and eat lunch. I solved the lunch problem by buying a turkey wrap from WaWa. I was hoping my landlady Miss Ellie would be home when I got in. She wasn't. I ate my wrap on her porch, then went next-door to see if my neighbors could help. They didn't have a key, but they knew who did and pointed me in the direction of Miss Ellie's sister and her son, who live a few doors down on Manor Ave. I owe Miss Linda and her son BIG, especially him - he'd hurt his back that morning and was barely moving, and he was still able to get into Miss Ellie's house and find the spare key.

(And I may take Miss Linda's suggestion that we have a second spare key made and leave it with Uncle Ken and Dolores...)

I made it inside with twenty minutes to spare. It was just enough time to grab a banana and a granola bar for a snack, change shirts, pack my snack, my cell phone, and my small jar of pennies, nickles, and dimes into my lunch container, jump on my bike, and head to work. Work was busy when I came in, nearly dead when I left (so much that I spent twenty of my last thirty minutes doing returns).

My coin jar was originally a case for the Japanese Blissey Pokemon toy my then-boyfriend bought me from eBay for my birthday. Even after he dumped me, I retained cute egg-shaped little Blissey and the very useful plastic container. When the container is full, I take it to the green Coinstar coin counting machine at the Acme. I normally get about 5 or 6 dollars out of it, but this year, I started adding more nickles and dimes to the jar in addition to pennies. I had three quarters and another nickel in my pocket that was added to the pile, too. The result? I'm now $10.06 richer.

It had continued to snow on-and-off while I was at work. It had stopped by the time I was on my way home. It's not a lot, probably about three or four inches, and it'll likely be gone by the time I go to work tomorrow, but it's more than the past few snow showers we've had. The main roads were mostly clear. Manor Avenue, a rarely-cleared back road, was the only place I had any trouble.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snow Days and Disappointments

It snowed a little bit this morning, but by the time I finally dragged my rear end out of bed around 9:30, almost every last bit of it was gone. All I saw were puddles. It wasn't quite as cold as it has been, either, probably in the mid-30s. After making Sweet Potato Pancakes and a half of a grapefruit for breakfast, I finally dusted the apartment while listening to the WOGL Beatles show. (The Beatles' Second Album, a US-only 1964 Capitol release, was in the spotlight today.) I started putting the general Winter decorations out, but I just ran out of time. I'll finish them tomorrow.

I also had the chance to call Mom. She was doing laundry, working on getting her chores done before the big Eagles game. She had the house to herself. Dad was out fishing and Keefe was babysitting at my sister Anny's house in North Wildwood. She happily talked about how much my new baby nephew Collyn is growing. He's gotten to be a big, plump baby, with short arms and legs like his father and grandfather. Skylar's getting tall, too. He's very tall for his age - looks more like six than four. Mom says he probably gets that from HIS father, who is in the military.

Work wasn't much fun. It was somewhat steady early on, stone-cold dead when I left. The news wasn't good - the Eagles were losing by the end of the first half, and though they would come back in the second, the Arizona Cardinals got one last touchdown and finally won 32-25. I'm proud of the Eagles for making it as far as they did at all (they just barely made the playoffs), I know a lot of people around here are heavily critical of the Eagles and will start braying about how they knew they were gonna lose and what losers they are and oh, they shouldn't have been in the playoffs at all and they got easy wins. Yeah, it was so easy, they picked off the NFL's top-seeded team, the New York Giants, last week. Cut them a break, you morons. A bunch of drunk dorks were already starting in as I was leaving for home. Work was so dead by that point, I spent the last half-hour doing returns.

I am NOT looking forward to work tomorrow. I really don't want to hear more idiots who jumped on the bandwagon last week and are now doing nothing but criticizing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beautifully Cold Mornin'

While it was still cold this morning when I got up, it wasn't quite as cold as yesterday, and there was no wind whatsoever. With today off, I lingered in bed for a happy hour, reading old journal entries and Indiana Jones, before finally getting up, getting dressed, and heading to to do this week's grocery shopping at the Acme. I was there around noon, which may not have been the best idea. The Acme was very busy, with long lines - people preparing for the big playoff games tomorrow, I suppose. In addition to the usual things - yogurt, grapefruit, bananas, greens, a green pepper, onion, and ground turkey to make meatloaf tonight - I found a bin with low-priced CDs. I finally came up with two $1.49 CDs of big band and swing music, some of which I hadn't seen before.

There was a package for me in the mail when I got back home. The second book in my Barnes and Noble Gift Card order, Beautiful Mornin' - The Broadway Musical in the 40s had arrived. This is the second in Ethan Mordden's series of books on the history of the Broadway musical in different time periods, from the 20s, when the musical as we know it first began to take shape, to the 70s, when many considered it a dying form (including, from his fussing, Mordden). I don't really agree with some of what Mordden says (especially on most musicals made after about 1979, which is why I tend to disregard his book on 80s and 90s musicals, The Happiest Corpse In the World), but the book is well-written and researched and snappy even when Mordden's at his most snobbish.

I read the book and ate a quick lunch of home-made Honey-Wheat Bread with Peanut Butter and celery, then went for a quick walk down to the White Horse Pike to deposit my paycheck in the ATM machine and finally deliver at least a little bit of my $700 dentist bill to Dr. Hyder (her office being a block down from the White Horse Pike PNC Bank branch). I had briefly considered a longer walk, but by this point, the earlier sunshine had been replaced by soft, gray clouds, and it was considerably colder. I just headed home instead.

I spent the rest of a quiet evening reading Beautiful Mornin' and vacuuming the apartment, which badly needed it. Even after quickly doing the spot around the Christmas tree two weeks ago, there were still a good amount of fake tree "needles" all over the music room. This was coupled with more fake needles and glistening cellophane from the garlands. I know I didn't get it all - I'll be finding fake greenery "needles" until NEXT Christmas.

Inspired by Beautiful Mornin', I ran CDs of four Broadway shows of the 40s while I read and made dinner. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Kiss Me, Kate are the original casts. Oklahoma! is the 1979 Broadway revival cast. On the Town is a studio album from 1960 with some of the original Broadway cast members, including Nancy Walker and Betty Comden and Adolph Green (who also wrote the book and the lyrics). The last two are particular favorites of mine. The exuberant Oklahoma! has been my favorite Rogers and Hammerstein show since I saw the movie as a child, and there's some lovely music in On the Town, including the touching "Some Other Time."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby, Heck YEAH It's Cold Outside!

It's cold today. It's really, really cold. The high here today was 15. That may be small frozen potatoes for those of you facing subzero temperatures in the Midwest, Northwest, New England, and Canada, but here in South Jersey, it almost never drops below the 30s. It was windy, too. With all that, you can understand why I spent the morning inside, working on editing this month's Monkees role-play. (It'll go up tonight.) The Acme called me in a little early, at 2 instead of 4. I was hoping to get a ride, but Uncle Ken was the only person home, and he can't drive because of his medication. Dolores was running errands, Jessa was at school, and Dad and Jodie had gone to a winery. (Yeah, I know, in temperatures in the teens. What, were they eating wine-cicles?) I rode my bike to work. At least it was sunny and the wind was facing my back most of the way.

Work was steady-to-dead most of the night, and given the weather, busier than I thought it would be. I figured everyone would be hiding from the cold. I got lucky, too. I ran into Dolores about a half-hour before work ended. Uncle Ken had gotten a hankering for tuna salad, but they were out of tomatoes and mayonnaise, so Dolores ran to the store to fetch some. She was able to drive me and my bike home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's De-Odd

It was snowing lightly this morning when I awoke. As with the last couple of times it snowed, the snow was very fine and delicate and didn't last for very long. Even so, I spent the morning working on editing this month's Monkees role play until most of the snow had vanished from my porch. It might be just as well that I waited to do my errands. A very bundled-up mailman brought a small package on my porch this morning. The maple syrup I bought with my Vermont Country Store gift card had arrived! You can't beat the real thing. I got it too late for today's breakfast; I'll make pancakes tomorrow.

I went to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteer session around 11:30. I did the children's DVDs and pulled out PG-rated films for the librarians to re-categorize. (The head librarian had apparently decided to move all movies rated PG to the adult section, no matter how "kiddie" they seem in subject matter. Actually, that's fine by me. Makes for less confusion and more room for the actual kid's stuff.) I also took out two Disney comic books and two DVDs, the only Backyardigans DVD the library had that I hadn't seen yet, and the 2004 Kevin Kline Cole Porter biography De-Lovely. I stopped at Super Fresh for broccoli and leeks for dinner and at the dollar store for a shower curtain and cheap Sweet n' Low afterward.

I watched both when I got home while I cleaned and dusted around the windows. The Backyardigans' Tale of the Mighty Knights is a double-length story that concerns Uniqua and Tyrone's attempt to rescue King Pablo's runaway egg from the Grabbing Goblin (Austin), the Flighty Fairy (Tasha), and the Dragon Mountain, where even the bravest knights have never dared to venture! (And I have now heard enough egg puns to last me two lifetimes.) I've seen the western spoof Blazing Paddles several times, but not another genre spoof, Garbage Trek, the kids' take on the Star Trek franchise. Captain Tasha and her crew Austin and Uniqua roam the galaxy in search of trash to throw away. Aliens Pablo and Tyrone have a very different use for it - to power their ship!

De-Lovely ran during dinner, and it proved to be de-strange. Hollywood's second attempt at a biography of 30s-40s playboy composer Cole Porter (after the so-so 1946 Night and Day), it's not as bad as many critics claimed, but it's a bit muddled. On the plus side, Kevin Kline was obviously having the time of his life as Porter. Ashley Judd did what she could with the difficult role of Porter's long-time wife/best friend/muse Linda. I didn't have as many problems as many of the critics did with the modern jazz, rock, and R&B talents who performed Porter's songs on the soundtracks. (Natalie Cole's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" was particularly impressive.)

A lot of the biography is way off. For example, Nelson Eddy did sing a Porter song in a 1937 MGM movie musical...but the song was "Rosalie," performed in the film of that title to dancer Eleanor Powell, not "I Love You" performed to Jeanette MacDonald in 1936's "Rose Marie." "I Love You" was written for the 1944 Broadway musical "Mexican Hayride." (Eddy also introduced "In the Still of the Night," which is performed earlier in the film.) And while it's true that character actor and long-time Porter friend Monty Wooley did make a bet with Porter to write the sappiest song he could think of for low-brow Louis B. Mayer, the song he wrote was "Rosalie"...and it was a hit, much to Porter's surprise and Mayer's delight.

On the other hand, I didn't have the problems with the way they portrayed Porter as bisexual instead of out-and-out gay. I've always thought Linda and Cole's relationship was odd but almost sort of sweet. For all his sexual preferences and snotty and outrageous behavior (Porter was said to be a snob to anyone who wasn't a member of his smart set in real life), he did truly love Linda and was devastated when she died in the early 50s. He wrote three more hit shows, two movies, and a TV score after she died, but much of the spark apparently died with her, and he passed on in seclusion and in pain.

My biggest problem with the film was the annoying structure. It's presented as Cole Porter's life done in flashback, with Jonathan Pryce as a god/director character who narrates the story and goads the elderly Cole. I thought the stage wrap-around segments were more annoying than interesting and really detracted from the main story, not to mention Pryce has always creeped me out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kitchen Kabaret

Finally got to cleaning the kitchen this morning, after putting it off for almost a week. There was a really terrible rust-brown ring around the sink under the dish pan, and I was tired of staring at it every time I did the dishes. I also dusted, and THAT was a mess. I have no idea where the dust is coming from. Maybe the drafts in the windows are worse than I thought.

I ran Broadway cast album LPs while I cleaned. I opted for a theme - a musical for each decade of the 20th century from the 50s onwards. Did The King and I for the 50s (the studio cast recording with Barbara Cook I found at the thrift shop a month ago). I hadn't listened to the copy of Camelot I bought at Russkoff's yet, so I made that my 60s selection. The original 1973 Grease was my 70s selection, and the 1983 Twiggy/Tommy Tune vehicle My One and Only was the 80s album.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - steady when I arrived, dying when I left. There were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

Far from being too cold to ride, I had one of my best rides to and from work in a long time! Yes, it was cold for this area, in the mid-20s, but the air was crisp and clear, and there was no wind, snow, rain, or anything. It felt good to breath in that clear, dry air! I might have overbundled myself - I was sweating when I arrived at work!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tales From the Laundry Room

Yup, today was Laundry Day. To be honest, that's pretty much all I did. I read Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates while the laundry was in the washer. Dad was watching Tales From the Crypt when I went back upstairs (the laundry room is in the basement). The last thing I felt like watching was a horror anthology, so I spent the next hour and a half reading books and magazines at the Oaklyn Library and buying brown sugar from Doria's Deli. (It's cheaper there than even at Wal-Mart, and I like the dark brown sugar better anyway.) I worked on editing the role play and had lunch for the last hour before heading off to work.

Work was slightly busier, but otherwise exactly the same as yesterday. Busy when I came in, quiet when I left, no problems, no relief, left on time.

I missed the small package on Miss Ellie's porch when I came in. She called me and told me about it. It was the first part of my Barnes and Noble order, the first Melendys book, The Saturdays, set when the kids still lived in New York. Looks like a lot of fun!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Better Balance

I did Yogawood today. I really prefer doing it on Monday; I can get it out of the way, and it's a great way to start off my week. Evidently, I'm not the only one. The class was jammed full when I got in. There were more than twenty people in the small room! I ended up at the very back, next to the door and the radiator. Even without a lot of room to move, I still got a fairly good practice in. On one hand, I seem to be much bigger than most of the people who come to class. I couldn't get the strap around me for the opening exercises without it coming apart! On the other hand, my balance is getting better, and I could do a few balancing exercises I couldn't do before, including the basics of that Tree Pose.

After I got home, I made the last bag of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookies until November. I finished the last of the cookies I got from Samantha and David for Christmas two days ago and needed to refill the cookie jar. I think I undercooked the first batch, but most of them came out fine. And by the way, a few tablespoons of buttermilk tastes divine in gingerbread and makes it very moist. I worked on editing this month's Monkees role play (which we finished last night) for the rest of the afternoon until work.

Work was steady, not as dead as yesterday and not as busy as last week. There were no major problems, and I had no relief and got out on time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"It's A Miracle, A True Green Spectacle...

I spent a quiet morning watching The Pirates of Penzance, calling Mom, and trying to fix my AVG Anti-Virus program. AVG keeps saying the Update Manager is disabled, even though the other virus is gone and everything else is fixed. I removed it and re-downloaded it, and the Update Manager is STILL coming up disabled. Either there's still a virus on my computer, or there's something wrong with the free edition of AVG 8.

I had a nice chat with Mom this morning. She was getting pumped up for the big playoff game between the Eagles and the Giants. We had a long, intense discussion about the economy. We're both worried about it. Mom's afraid the Acme will close down, and she's upset because food prices haven't fallen as fast as gas prices. (Of course, she also lives in Cape May County, which is notoriously more expensive than other parts of New Jersey. Yet another reason I no longer live there.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon at work...which, alas, meant I had to miss the game. On the other hand, work was no problem at all, especially compared to last week. It was steady when I came in around 1:30, stone-cold dead when I got out at 5:30. It was so quiet, I spent the last 45 minutes returning unwanted items to the shelves. The lack of customers was really appreciated after the lunacy last week.

Someone was nice enough to keep the store posted on the score of the game, and I heard a little of it when the Citizen's Bank branch in the store ran it on their radio. The Philadelphia Eagles beat the top-seeded New York Giants 23-11 to go on to play the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship. I have no idea what people will do around here if they go to the Super Bowl, especially after the Phillies won the World Series in October.

It feels nice to be right about things for once in my life. I was right about the snow not sticking around. That less than an inch we got is pretty much gone, and Mom says they only had rain in Cape May County. And I was right about not giving up on the Eagles. You shouldn't quit on a team mid-way through the season.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Waiting for the Snow

I awoke to see absolutely nothing on my porch this morning but a few sticker balls and a squirrel. It was cloudy, but there was no snow, sleet, or even rain. On one hand, after all that fuss yesterday, it was a little disappointing. On the other hand, I really had errands I wanted to run today, and I've had enough of wandering around in lousy weather of late.

I didn't have much luck with shopping in the stores today. Wal Mart did have a CD/Cassette player, but it was $49.95, and I was hoping to find one for more like 20 or 30. They didn't have any bike baskets or brakes, either. FYE had nothing of interest. I debated getting cheap sneakers and snow boots at Payless and the Shoe Dept, but decided it could wait until my finances are better. I did mildly better at the Acme, where I picked up grapefruit, a large bag of apples, bananas, light yogurt, deodorant, shampoo, peanut butter, and a few other necessary items.

Though the bank was closed by the time I went home, I still needed to deposit my paycheck. I used the ATM machine at the PNC Bank down the street from me in the White Horse Pike, then ran to Family Dollar to check out their end-of-the-season sales. I wish I hadn't. I really don't like the Family Dollar on the White Horse Pike. The clerks are nasty, the customer service non-existent, and the shelves are never stocked. I heard the clerks yelling at each other and customers across the store, including using profanity with a half-dozen customers in ear-shot. There was a long line and only one slow and rude cashier to handle them. One fellow bought a cartful of sodas. I don't know why the cashier didn't question this; he was likely buying them for chop shops. He actually pulled his car right up to the front door to load them, nearly knocking a woman over in the process! I was going to buy those new, energy-saving florescent bulbs, but needless to say, I didn't end up buying anything. I don't think I'll be returning to that Family Dollar anymore. I'll just go farther afield and use Dollar Tree or Dollar General Plus when I need things really, really cheap.

Went across the street to WaWa for a Pumpkin Spice Latte after that. I was going to stop at Doria's Deli for brown sugar, but it was closed by the time I got over there. I just went home instead. I spent the rest of the evening using the Vermont Country Store and Barnes and Noble gift cards Lauren sent me for Christmas. It was so hard to decide on something I could get that I really wanted AND needed. I finally bought a pint of maple syrup from the Vermont Country Store and three books from Barnes and Noble, the other two Melendy Series books I didn't have and the Ethan Mordden Broadway musical history Beautiful Mornin' - The Broadway Musical in the 40s. Mordden's opinions and writing style can be insufferably snobbish sometimes, but his grasp of the history of the theater in general and musicals in particular is invaluable.

It finally started to snow as I did my online shopping. The snow was fairly heavy but, as I suspected, didn't last for long. There was a little rain after that, but it didn't last long, either. Right now, it's once again not doing anything. There's still a bit of snow on my porch, but it'll likely be gone by the time I go to work tomorrow.
Computer Unbugged

Oh, and by the way, my computer's working better. Lauren suggested a program that would allow her to look at my computer and see what was wrong. We removed several dated programs...and it would seem that one, SpySuspect, was the corrupted one. While I haven't gotten any pop-ups tonight and the computer is running much faster, I'm still having trouble with AVG claiming the update manager is disabled. I'm going to try finding an updated version or re-installing it tomorrow.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Balancing Snow, Sleet, and Rain

Supposedly, there's a winter storm on it's way, with lots of snow and ice. Or so most of my customers say. The Acme was very busy today, and people were anxious and cranky over the weather reports. We might be getting snow early this morning and into tomorrow. It's more likely we'll be getting rain and/or sleet, which is what's happened the last few times were supposed to be having snow. You'd think there was a blizzard coming, the way everyone was acting! Customers were cranky and rude again. One woman fussed because her tuna packets didn't ring up on sale. I checked the price myself. She bought the wrong size, but she wouldn't believe me, and once again, I was accused of having a bad attitude when I was only doing my job. This time, I didn't cry. I just got mad. What is WITH these people...and why can't they knock those chips off their shoulders and leave them in Camden, where they belong?

That wasn't the only problem I had today. My register went down while I was working on an order. It wasn't my fault, but it disrupted the order and I wasn't happy. A manager got upset with me when I was impatient about calling him over when it was really busy and there were only two managers to help us. He was a little rude...but the customers and I should have been more patient. Donna actually tried to get me in for another eight-hour shift today. I'm glad I only opted for six. The extra hours weren't worth my sanity or having to put off other chores another day.

This morning went much better. I finally got to Yogawood today after having to put it off all week due to early or called-in work. Things went fairly well. My balance is getting better. I was able to do the Tree Pose without TOO much trouble, though I'm not ready to go further yet.

After I left Yogawood and picked up milk at the WaWa a few doors down in Collingswood, I went home and finished taking down the Christmas decorations. I took down the garlands and put them in bags, then put the bags in a milk crate. The wreath, big plastic bell, cookie tray, box with the New Year's noisemakers and hats, and placemats now go in that big Santa Claus bag Uncle Ken and Dolores wrapped my coat in on Christmas Eve. (I knew I'd find something to do with that!) The Nativity went in it's own bag. Samantha, Carrie, Dulcie, and the Sailor Moon dolls were redressed in their original clothes. Carrie and Dulcie's dresses went into a bag. The other outfits are in Samantha's box. I vacuumed around where the tree was (fake trees and garlands shed almost as much as real ones do), moved the plastic book shelf back where the tree was, and returned some videos and DVDs to where the Nativity was.

That pretty much concludes my Christmas season until after Thanksgiving. I'm going to hold off putting up the Valentine's stuff for another couple of weeks, though I do have a few items for general winter that will be put up as soon as I finish cleaning.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It Keeps You Runnin'

Not a great day, but I did get some things done. The thrift shop wasn't open when I arrived there at ten after 10. I hung around in the Collingswood Library for over an hour, just reading books on musicals and movies. (They have a fairly large - if older - collection of books on the theater, movies, and television.) When I finally made it back to the thrift shop, it was open and Erica was there. She'd overslept and was fifteen minutes late opening the store...and didn't really need me anyway. It would have been nice if she'd called me last night and told me that.

Scott was no help, either. I told him everything that's been going on - with Uncle Ken being sick, with my money problems, with the computer virus, with gaining weight and feeling fat, with work - and all he said was to wait for my tax return. Great, but that won't come until the end of next month or the beginning of March. What am I supposed to do in the meantime?

I had enough money left after counseling (I paid half of it with what little I had left in the bank and the other half with some of the money I had on me) to buy a cheap slice of pizza at Cafe Antonio's II on the end of the Haddon Avenue Shopping District, a few blocks down from PNC and Bank of America and contact solution at Walgreens. I looked at their WCares WebKinz when I was there, but alas, all they had were Lil'Kinz Tigers and Lil'Kinz Yorkies. I have a Lil'Kinz Tiger, and the Yorkies are rather silly-looking poofy little dogs with a big pink stripe on their back and a ribbon in their fur. No thank you.

Things went better at the Haddon Township Library, my first time volunteering there in over two weeks. They gave me a lovely little flashlight for my volunteer Christmas gift. (I have two, but you can never have too many flashlights.) I organized the childrens' DVDs and helped many children find things to watch. One little girl wanted Angelina Ballerina. Another girl opted for Strawberry Shortcake, and her older sister seemed pleased with That's So Suite Life Disney crossover DVD I showed her. A boy wanted Vegetales; a younger one chose Scooby Doo.

I had enough money to treat myself to something I'd wanted for a while on my way home. I didn't find what I was looking for at Super Fresh (which was cake mix and peanut butter on sale), but I did pick up an American Girls book, Really Truly Ruthie. This is the book that comes with the new Ruthie doll. Ruthie is Kit Kitteridge's best friend, a sweet-natured, very girly girl who loves fairy tales, fantasy, princesses, and happy endings. Ruthie, tired of being underestimated by Kit, her family, and everyone who knows her, becomes determined to find a way to help her friend when she discovers that their eviction date is closer than they originally thought. Though my best friend Lauren is a tomboy who prefers ninja turtles to princesses, Lauren reminds me a lot of her. She's just as courageous, kind-hearted, and generous.

It was around quarter after 5 when I got home, but I still wanted to get the tree down. I rushed around, taking down ornaments and putting on soup for dinner. It was probably just as well that I'd forgotten to take something out. I wouldn't have had the time to cook it anyway. When all was said and done, though, I managed to get the ornaments back in their boxes, the boxes in the plastic bin, the tree back in its box, and returned bin and box to the back room. Tomorrow, I'll hopefully be able to put away the garlands and the remaining Christmas items after Yogawood.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Have a Very Wet New Year

The weather today was incredibly miserable. It rained on and off all day, sometimes quite heavily. I had to ask for a ride to work. Dolores drove me to the Acme (she had to pick up some things anyway); Jessa drove me home. It might have been just as well. I ended up spending most of the day at work. Donna called me in around 8:30 to ask me if I would come in at 10. I originally said no, I had things planned for this morning with my sister...but then I called Rose five minutes later to see if she was ready for Yogawood today. Of course, she'd completely forgotten and now had no time for yoga classes. I called Donna back and told her I could work after all, and I did. Thankfully, the day went quickly, despite this being the first time I've worked eight hours in over a month. It was quiet in the morning, busy by the time we got to the usua 4PM rush hour, with no major problems. Turns out I went in for an older woman who had just had major surgery not long ago and wasn't really up for a long day's work.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Raining In the New Year

Today was Laundry Day. I read my new Indiana Jones paperback while Dad took down his Christmas tree. His (real) tree is three times the size of mine both ways...but he and Uncle Ken don't have nearly as many decorations as I do. (Or maybe they do and they just have more room to display them.) I ran to CVS for eggs and milk (the latter for Dad and Uncle Ken) while my laundry was in the dryer.

As I walked to CVS, it started to sprinkle lightly. Nothing big, just some spitting. Dolores (and The Weather Channel) said we were supposed to get sleet later. We did get some sleet later...for about ten minutes around 2PM, by which time I was at home and working on getting my Christmas decorations down. By the time the displays were put away and I was just shoving the last of the bears into their plastic bin, it was back to sprinkling. It sprinkled while I rode to work, and was misting when I got out. It finally started raining harder about a half-hour ago.

Work, thank god after yesterday, was steady when I came in, dead when I left, with no major problems other than the lack of help.

Monday, January 05, 2009

What Am I Doin' Hangin' 'Round?

I'm so frustrated. First of all, I'm broke. After my rent check goes through and I pay as much of my counseling as I can with my debit card (I can pay some of it with cash) on Thursday, I will have five dollars in the bank. Of course, I get paid the next day, but it's still not much. I probably won't have money again until I get my tax return in March. And don't say "you're not the only one." Everyone keeps telling me that. It doesn't make me feel better. I'm the only one I know who's really struggling. I want advice on what to do next, not to be told I'm not the only one who has no money.

Work was horrible. Though it wasn't as busy as yesterday, people were cranky, rude, obnoxious, and just plain mean. Just an hour after I arrived, one woman got angry at me when I tried to explain that I took the extra sales on her Canada Dry 12 packs of soda manually, since she didn't have the Acme sales card that takes them off automatically. Because I took the sales off manually, they were reflected in the final price she paid, but not in the prices of the item on the receipt. She absolutely refused to hear it! She told me I had a bad attitude and was being nasty and left! I just cried and cried after that, even when the bagger and the customer behind her told me I was fine. If I was fine, why did she say I was rude?

It was like that all day, and not just for me, either. Several cashiers and clerks later reported that they'd had to handle many grouchy and rude customers today as well. It's that beginning-of-the-month thing again. Many of these people are coming from Camden with chips on their shoulders a mile wide and no money other than what they have in food stamps...half of which goes to junk like huge birthday cakes. I had food stamps when I first got out of college, and the only cakes I bought with them were cake mixes and Little Debbie snack cakes.

I received a far more pleasant surprise when I came home. Mom told me yesterday she'd sent out a late Christmas present in the mail late last week. It finally arrived this evening. She gave me a snowman "angel" made of real wool felt covered with glitter, with wire wings and a wire halo and a bean bag bottom. He's so cool...and not so Christmassy he'll have to be put away in a few days. He'll stay out all winter long with the general winter items. She also sent me a real Wilton gingerbread man cookie cutter with a plastic grip handle. (I usually only make roll-out cookies at Christmas, but after the molasses cookies came out so well, maybe I'll have to change that...)

There was a card in the mail along with Mom's package. It was a very late Christmas card from my good friend in Wildwood, Kelly. A really late card - the long letter in it was dated December 16th. Either it took her that long to mail it...or the mail's really unreliable these days. I hadn't heard a lot from Kelly other than an occasional online chat since I left Wildwood in January 2006, and it was great to hear from her.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

"Fly Eagles Fly, On the Road to Victory..."

The Acme was a mob scene today. It was really crazy. We had lines into the aisles, even with most of the registers open. Not only are the big football games continuing, but people still have their beginning-of-the-month money. Other people are just stocking up after the long holiday week, now that their kids are on their way back to school and relatives have gone home. It made for a really, really busy day. I was lucky my relief was on time and there were otherwise no major problems.

Uncle Ken's house was full when I arrived. Samantha and her family, Karen, Jim, and their family, Dolores and her family, Mark, and several older friends of Uncle Ken and Dad's were there, all cheering the Eagles on. (And Samantha was feeling much better than on Christmas Day.) They had a good reason to cheer. Despite some missteps, the Eagles defeated the Minnesota Vikings 26-14 (much to the dismay of native Minnesotans Karen and Jim). They'll be going on to play the New York Giants next Sunday.

Poor Daddy's not nearly as happy. The Dolphins' comeback ended with a noisy thud earlier today as the Ravens steamrolled over them, 27-9. Just as he did when the Dolphins lost in September, he called them "embarrassing."

Oh, and I called the family in Erma this morning. I got Keefe. He's also feeling much, much better...just in time for school to begin. Other than he's not happy that he had to spend his Christmas vacation sick, he's fine. He and Mom were on their way out to go shopping when I called. My stepfather was out fishing. (Should be interesting if he's home by next Sunday - he's a huge Giants fan.)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Football Mania

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday, and in fact, even more so. It was so busy up front, we kept having to call everyone else - bakers, stock workers, even deli people - to help out. There weren't even any call-outs. It was just that busy of a day! It's not surprising, either. There's big football games, both college bowl games and pro playoff games, all weekend long. Many people are recovering from the Christmas and New Year's holidays and need to restock their kitchens and pantries. And of course, as I mentioned in yesterday's entry, it's the beginning of the month. People who only get money now are doing their shopping. Not to mention, many people may have put off doing major shopping over the holidays as well and are trying to get caught up.

We had a small party in the back room for the Eagles game tomorrow. There were two plates of cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, and candy from the bakery. Someone brought in potato chips, corn chips, cheese curls, and layered bean dip. I brought bread made with the last of the candied fruit from the Christmas Stolen. Not the healthiest lunch, but I did enjoy it.

After I got home, I pulled out my cleaning supplies and did the bathroom. I'd normally wait until after I've gotten down the Christmas decorations, but the bathroom and the kitchen haven't been done since right after Thanksgiving and are really, really bad. I'll do the kitchen tomorrow morning, then finish the rest of the cleaning after the displays and the tree come down in the middle of next week.

I'm not having much luck with getting rid of this virus. I've run a malware program, two spyware programs, Ad-Aware, and AVG. Most of them recognize the virus, but they won't get rid of it. On advice from Lauren and several reputable computer advice forums, I deleted all Java applications but the current one tonight. I'm hoping that'll help after I shut the computer down this evening.

I'm just really frustrated right now. The computer, which is how I talk to my best friend, is giving me trouble. I'm afraid it'll die if I can't get rid of this virus. Most of my Christmas money is going to have to go into the rent. I need a new CD/cassette player and I still need more clothes...but except for new errands-running sneakers, they're going to have to wait. I have to pay the rent first. I know that's not what Mom, Uncle Ken, and my dads wanted me to do with the money. They wanted me to buy clothes.

I won't need those tighter clothes soon, anyway. I've been gaining weight. Yeah, I know, everyone gains weight over the holidays, but I was starting to do good again! I expected to be down to a nice, normal, average 140 by last summer. I was at 194 on Monday, and I'll bet I've gained at least ten pounds since then. I'll never lose the weight. I've been craving peanut butter lately, by the spoonful. I can't help it. I just eat. It's what I do.

The Acme is just driving me crazy. If I were as smart as everyone says I am, I'd find a way to get a job. And don't give me the junk about the bad economy. The economy hasn't been bad for seven years. I haven't been able to find a real job in seven years.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Getting Ready for Winter

Spent most of today at work. Work was not fun. Not only were we busy until well after I was finished, but it's the beginning of the month, and the usual beginning-of-the-month people were doing their shopping. I did my shopping as well this evening. I managed to get around the rush hour crowds long enough to pick up soup (that was on sale), Fiber One granola bars (god, I love those), apples, bananas, yogurt (Yoplait was on sale), mushrooms, brown rice, sugar, and two grapefruit. I loved the collard greens Vanessa made for Christmas dinner so much, I finally bought some of my own this evening.

It snowed a little bit while I was in work, but by the time I finally got out, it was clear and cold, but not as cold as yesterday. Looks like it's more-or-less going to stay that way, which is fine by me. No matter what my customers say, this is really what it's supposed to be here at this time of the year.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Chillin' New Year

New Year's Day brought gorgeous sunny skies to southern New Jersey...and temperatures in the mid-upper 20s. It was too cold to be standing around after I'd just spent the day before running around Center City Philadelphia, so I stayed in Oaklyn today. I did go out to breakfast at the Newton Diner, just as I did last year. The place was packed when I arrived around quarter after 10. I overheard a bus boy mention that two waitresses hadn't bothered to show up for work. It explained the quality of the food and service, too. The waitress was nice, but took forever to get to me (and I'm just one person). While my waffle was delicious, golden on the outside and soft on the inside, the ham was too dry and the hot chocolate tasted more like brown water with a little sugar.

I stopped at WaWa across the street to get a real hot chocolate that tasted like chocolate, milk, and turkey lunchmeat. It's a good thing they weren't nearly as busy as the diner. One cashier said to a customer that five employees called out or didn't show up that morning. (Did I mention how happy I was to have off today?)

I passed the rest of the first day of 2009 quietly. I ran SpyBot and Avast! in an attempt to get this blasted virus off my computer (they didn't work). I baked bread. I watched the rest of The Chronological Donald, Vol 4. I finished Flight of the Silver Turtle. (I really loved both those books, BTW. A little confusing for someone who isn't a sci-fi geek, but still a lot of fun.)

This set was really worth the 31 dollars I spent on it yesterday. Turns out the Donald cartoons of the early 50s were among the ones The Disney Channel tended to show the most when I was a child. I reveled in the delights of such classics as Donald Applecore, Trick or Treat, Working for Peanuts, the Cinemascope Grand Canyonscape and Chips Ahoy, and the wonderful educational featurette Donald in Mathmagic Land. (As someone who still hates math, I really appreciate seeing Donald struggle with it as well!) Disney didn't stop at reviving childhood memories, either. Included as bonus features were ten modern shorts from the 1999 Saturday morning show Mickey Mouse Works. I fondly recall seeing many of those shorts in college, and a bit later as part of Mickey's House of Mouse.