Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm a Wanderer

Had a big Red Onion, Mushroom, and Cheddar Cheese Omlet for breakfast, then finished watching Nashville. It was a beautiful day, slightly more humid than yesterday but still sunny, breezy, and warm. I had DVDs and books due at the library, so that was my first stop after I finally headed out around quarter of noon.

Despite the beautiful day, the library was packed. The children's DVDs were a mess, so I started there. I shelved and organized the DVDs and helped the kids find things they wanted. One little boy was interested in Pokemon; he ended up with the Pokemon Ranger movie. A mother and her two toddler daughters requested Mickey Mouse. There were, once again, stacks of adult DVDs to shelve as well. It took me a long time to get all of them done. I didn't take anything out this week. I'm not sure I'll have the time for DVDs and extra books this week.

I kinda just wandered around after leaving the Library. It was well past lunch time, but I wasn't really hungry. (I guess I'm not the only one who eats lunch late. There was an amazingly long line at the McDonald's drive-in on Cuthbert Road.) I rode down to the Dollar General and bought a new shower curtain (the old one was disgusting), then stopped at the 7-11 next-door to the Westmont Acme. I just got a soft pretzel and a Slurpee in an X-Men Origins: Wolverine Wolverine cup. (It was the last Wolverine cup they had, too. They had tons of Transformers, Terminator, Sabertooth, a little of Gambit, and even some Iron Man and Incredible Hulk leftover from last year...but I only found one with Hugh Jackman on it.)

Kept riding down Cuthbert and into Westmont proper after lunch. I stopped briefly at the mom-and-pop video store there, but didn't walk out with anything. Bored, I went in the opposite direction down Haddon Avenue into Collingswood to see if the Variety Store had any of the July WebKinz yet. Nope. Nothing of interest. (And the packs of Series 2 cards cost $3.99! No way.)

By this point, dark clouds were beginning to gather, and the wind was picking up, though it remained hot and mildly humid. I was out of things to do with the money I had, so I just rode home. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching X-Men: The Last Stand and doing more cleaning - swept the porch and scrubbed the kitchen.

(And it's beyond me why most people are so hard on Last Stand. I enjoyed it. In fact, my only real complaint is my only complaint about all three movies - I love these characters so much, I really want to see more of them, especially Kelsey Grammer's awesome Beast.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Clean

For the first time in over a month, today began with a clear blue sky, without a cloud in sight, and a lovely breeze. I headed over to Dad and Uncle Ken's to do the laundry. My cousin Paige, who works for her father Mark, seemed to be the only one home. We had a nice chat about her work (she works for a organ donor facility and with her dad) and her little girl Ella (who is now two).

After the laundry came out of the dryer, I went back to my apartment to clean the bathroom. I'm probably not going to get to the rest of the apartment until later in the week, but the bathroom couldn't wait. It was really grungy, especially the tub. I couldn't stand looking at it anymore.

I finished the bathroom and ran back to get my laundry...then discovered it had to dry a few more minutes. No problem. Dad and Uncle Ken had appeared. They were trying to get the pump for the pool to work. I chatted a little with them, then finally got the laundry home. I had just enough time to put it all away, change into my uniform, eat lunch, and pack dinner before leaving for work.

Between the nice weather and this being the end of the month, work was steady-to-dead all night, with no problems.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Country Girl, City Girl

Woke up late to a mostly sunny day. It was a bit more humid than yesterday, but otherwise the weather was still pretty decent. Had blueberry pancakes for brunch while listening to WOGL's Brunch With the Beatles show. (The soundtrack for the animated film Yellow Submarine was the theme today.)

I called Mom for the weekly chat after breakfast. Had a nice long one, too. Mom was getting ready to do some garden work in preparation for a big Fourth of July party she and Dad are having. Or, to be more specific, Dad's having. According to her, he saw a neighbor's Memorial Day shindig and decided he wanted to out-do them. Mom just doesn't like it when people don't give her two week's notice on anything first.

Mom and I talked about Rose and me and how much I like living here. I do like living here. This area isn't really suburbs so much as they are a bunch of small towns mashed together that happen to be near two major cities. I just wish some other people like me wanted to live here, too. Yes, sometimes I do get bored. Yes, I wish the libraries were bigger and better-organized. Yes, I feel out-of-place among the older couples and families who also live here. I really wish I wasn't the only single working person in the South Jersey area who would rather live in inexpensive peace than noisy, expensive lunacy. As much as I like visiting the city, I honestly don't think I'd want to live there.

Rose, on the other hand, loves the city. Mom thinks she ought to go back to Washington DC, where she went to school. Mom used to live near DC as a young teenager, and she loved it there. It's all theirs. As nice as the Smithsonian is, I don't think I could live in a town whose population is 3/4 politicians. I don't like the ones in New Jersey, much less on the Federal level.

Rose has also discussed trying to move to Florida, maybe Miami. She's fonder of the beach than I am. Yeah, we both grew up next to it, but I'm happy next to any body of water. She's the one who truly loves the sand and the surf. Her problem is trying to get her boyfriend, whose family lives in the area, to go with her. I think she loves him too much for that.

After Mom got off, I just hung around online until it was time to go to work. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday, on-and-off steady. Unlike yesterday, I was done at an "off" time...and once again, my relief was the boy with a second job who is always late. A manager was nice enough to take pity on me and come in for me. (And I'm sooooo glad he did. The next customers were more of those chop-shop people I mentioned yesterday, with a cart filled with sale soda, cartons of Snapple, and boxes of cereal and fisfulls of coupons.)

I came home and watched Nashville while making Flounder with White Wine Sauce, Rosemary Sweet Potato Fries, and Spinach Salad. Nashville is an unusual film from the mid-70s. Director Robert Altman interweaves the lives of at least 20 different people during 5 tumultuous days in the Country Music Capitol of the World. So far, I'm surprisingly enjoying it. I'm not a country music fan, so I couldn't tell you how accurately that's portrayed, but the cast of 70s character actors really get into their roles. Lily Tomlin comes out especially well as a gospel singer and housewife with two deaf children.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garden State Summer

The day began with a ringing phone, never a good sign. Yes, it was the Acme. Could I come in at 10AM? No. It was quarter of 8, and not had I only been awake for about 10 minutes, but I really wanted to get to the bank and the Farm Market.

Even if my day had already begun on a bad foot, at least Mother Nature was finally making up for it. Today was gorgeous, sunny and breezy, as hot as it's supposed to be at this time of year without yesterday's stifling humidity. Unlike last week, I had no problems quickly running to the bank and the Farm Market.

The bank was dead as a doornail when I got in, but that's probably because they'd just opened the doors. The Farm Market, on the other hand, was hopping. People who will be out of town next week or just too busy on the Fourth to shop (like me) were probably stocking up on fresh summer produce. The strawberries, leeks, and asparagus were gone, but there were plenty of new items out. I ended up with Colby cheese, wildflower honey, turnips, carrots, white onions with the tops still on, mushrooms, bananas from the wholesaler, cherries, blueberries, and the first New Jersey peaches of the season. (Saw the first blackberries, too.)

It's probably just as well that I only saw one yard sale on my way home, and it wasn't very interesting. I had just enough time to put everything away, change into my work clothes, make lunch, and arrive right at 11AM.

Work was on-and-off the whole day. Most people were pretty cool, probably because of the re-emergence of the sun, but there were a few obnoxious idiots. And of course, the second-to-last customer was one of those darn chop shoppers, the people who buys a cart-full of sale items, complete with a tall stack of coupons for each item...and then returns ten minutes later, pushing a second cart-full through another check-out line. I hate those people. What they're doing is buying items to sell to stores in Camden and Philadelphia that re-sell them for twice the amount. They're doing something illegal, they're taking inventory that should be used by legitimate customers, and they hold up the line. If they want to be in business, they should get their items from a warehouse. If they can't afford to be in business, they shouldn't be in business.

I was still annoyed about the chop-shop guy when I got out of work. (Thankfully, it was in an "off" period. My relief was the guy who is always late, but I was able to leave with no fuss.) My annoyance wasn't relieved by the Hispanic men who worked in Tu Se Bella, the pizzeria in the mall behind the Acme. The guy taking my order didn't hear me when I tried to tell them I wanted a second slice. He was cool about it, but it was frustrating, especially after what I'd just been through in the Acme.

It remained "off" enough that my own grocery shopping was painless. I didn't need much, anyway. Mostly a major yogurt restock (needed plain yogurt as well as the flavored), along with shampoo, granola bars, salad dressing (decided to try the Light Asian Toasted Sesame; the Kraft brands were on a good sale), tea, and things to make a pudding pie.

I made a Lemon Blueberry Pudding Pie right when I got home. I wanted to get rid of last week's blueberries. I used sugar-free Lemon Pudding mix, so it came out a tad metallic-tasting, but not bad.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hot Balance

Yuck. Despite the clouds, it was sticky-humid and 90 degrees when I got up this morning. Things weren't much better at Yogawood, not helped by a very full (at least 21 people, counting teacher Micki) class. We worked on shoulder stands and squats and lifts. Sigh. One of these days, I'm going to be able to lift myself.

I made a quick stop at WaWa on the way home for water (I was sweating like crazy) and a half-gallon of skim milk, then rode home. I spent the rest of the morning watching the Alfred Hitchcock Notorious with my right knuckle under ice. It's been really swollen for weeks now. I have no idea what I did to it. My middle toe on my right foot's been sore, too.

Notorious is a black-and-white Hitchcock mystery from 1946. Ingrid Bergman is a shady lady with connections who agrees to spy on a ring of German scientists; Cary Grant is her contact who falls for her. Claude Rains is the head of the German spy ring whom Bergman marries to get the goods on. Slower-moving than the 50s Hitchcock mysteries, but more elegant, classy, and romantic as well. Bergman and Grant do well as the spy lovers.

Work was really busy when I came in, dead when I left, with no problems other than every person in the entire South Jersey area seemed to want to cash their checks tonight. I was right to leave early to get mine cashed; by the time I got off, there was a sign saying "we can no longer cash checks tonight." They cashed so many checks, the Customer Service Desk ran out of money!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Right or Wrong Thing to Do

I was called into work just as I had finished getting dressed this morning. They wanted me to work from 10:30 to 3:30. I shouldn't have done it, but I turned them down. First of all, it was almost quarter of 10 when they called me and I hadn't even had breakfast! Second, I'd promised my friend Erica I'd volunteer at the thrift shop today.

I feel really stupid about it. How could I have turned down money? I could have hurried. Erica later said I shouldn't have done it, either, even though she appreciated the help. I really felt bad. It was dumb and very immature. Jobs should come first.

After I arrived, I flattened boxes and polished a silver serving set. Erica gave me a jar of tarnish remover and asked me to work on a huge bowl, a larger serving tray, a two-tiered tray, and a gravy boat. Took me a little while and a lot of elbow grease, and they never did come out quite perfectly, but they were at least de-tarnished when I was through. The big serving tray in particular needed it. You'd never know the thing was silver before I rubbed at it. When it was done, the silver gleamed under the few remaining dark patches.

Erica asked me to buy lunch at WaWa. She originally mentioned pretzels, but WaWa's soft pretzels are terrible; I suggested sandwiches instead. I got a turkey and provolone and a bottle of water and she had a BLT and a WaWa Lemon Iced Tea. We chatted with customers as we ate. There were a few people this morning and early afternoon, but the store wasn't too busy.

It sure wasn't the weather keeping the customers away. It was hot, breezy, and mostly sunny, well into the 80s. I rode around a little after buying a pair of jean shorts and a pair of work pants. I stopped at the Collingswood Book Trader to see if they had something I was looking for (they didn't), then rode up to Newton River Park and into Oaklyn.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing research and answering the pile of friend invites that had accumulated in my Facebook account...which I totally forgot I had.

I was looking up colleges that offer Library Science courses. There's two in this area, Rowan University and Drexel University, along with several others elsewhere in New Jersey, including Seton Hall and Montclair.

I really want to be a librarian, or at least to do something I love that will get me out of the Acme, but...this whole going back to college thing is scaring the living daylights out of me. How can I apply? Who will I ask for recommendations? I don't know anyone! I'll never pass the GRE. My math is terrible. I just barely made it out of 5 years of college. I'll never be able to afford it, especially uber-expensive Drexel. I got through college on grants and loans; never did anything special enough to warrant scholarships.

And my sister Rose is in Rutgers Law School and is going crazy. I have enough stress in my life without losing my mind over classes and grades, too.

On the other hand, I really do want to get out of the Acme and do something real with my life. Libraries are what I know. I know writing. I know reading. I know organizing. I may look into a track that incorporates children as well, Youth Services or School Media Specialist. I don't want to be a cashier for the rest of my life. I want to really have a life.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Playing With the Kids

Started off with my 10-3 work day. It was pretty quiet, with no major problems...and it beat the heck out of working 5-10, which is what I've done on Wednesdays for the past two weeks. There was sun when I woke up, but clouds started to gather even as I rode to work. It remained hot and humid despite the dark clouds, though. I finally bought some buttermilk before heading home.

I'd planned on spending the rest of my rare afternoon off either on a long bike ride or swimming in Dad's and Uncle Ken's pool. Between the dark clouds and the fact that I hadn't had a good swim yet this year, I opted for the pool.

Dad was inside when I got in, playing his beloved guitar, but I didn't see anyone else. (Jess' car was there - she may have been upstairs.) I put my bag, sandals, and shorts under the patio umbrella in case it rained. Dipping a toe in revealed that the water was really, really cold. If I tried to tip-toe in slowly, I'd be there all night. The best course of action was to jump right in the deep end.

That may not have been too bright. The water wasn't just cold, it was FREEZING! 72 degrees to be exact, as I discovered when I read the thermometer tethered to the side steps. I came up cursing a streak that matched the water, happy that I was the only one in the pool area, or even outside.

I swam for about a half-hour, which was really all my body could stand. I'd debated going an hour, but it was just too cold. Mother Nature apparently agreed with me. I was just getting ready to get out of the pool when it started pouring. Hard. I climbed out of the pool and ducked under the patio umbrella; when it didn't let up, I made a break for the house.

The showers did finally abate after about ten minutes. I said good-bye to Dad (who was about to hit the shower) and headed home. On my way, I encountered Mercedes and Blake, Dolores' 10-year-old and 5-year-old grandchildren, playing catch with a big, soft fabric ball the size of a volleyball. They encouraged me to join them for a couple of rounds of Monkey In the Middle. We had a really fun time. The kids were hilarious (and have darn good throwing arms).

I was at home and in the shower when it started raining again. The second time proved to be the charm. It didn't even take ten minutes this time, but when it was done, the air felt fresher and the sun was trying to come out. Even so, I turned my air conditioner on. It was hotter, too, and is supposed to get even more so tomorrow. (Rumor has it that it may get into the 90s.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tap Your Troubles Away

Started the morning with...sunshine. Sunshine and 80 degree temperatures. Yeah, I was shocked, too. And though the sun was in and out all day, it was warmer and less humid today than it has been the past few weeks.

I spent the morning refilling the cookie jar. I wanted a hard cookie that would stand up to the recent humidity we've been having and not go moldy in a few days. I made another spice cookie, Old-Fashioned Ginger Cookies from my British cookie and scone cookbook. They came out quite nicely, hard but not tough on the teeth, very spicy, and just sweet enough.

Ran Jerry Herman cast albums while the cookies baked. My favorite of Jerry Herman's scores is also his, the much-maligned Mack and Mabel. Wonderful music (including one of my favorite ballads from a musical, "I Won't Send Roses")...but this re-telling of the real-life doomed relationship between silent movie comedy legends Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand has always had book problems. There's no way to add a happy ending to this tale - Normand became a drug-addict and died in her 30s. Sennett lived longer, but died washed-up and forgotten by the industry he helped to popularize.

Herman's other shows are more fun. For a change, I put on the wonderful Pearl Bailey cast album for Hello Dolly!. Not that I have anything against Carol Channing or Barbara Streisand, but Bailey's really great, and backed up by a surprisingly good - if unlikely - Horace Vandergelder, Cab Calloway. Listened to the classic original cast album for Mame with Angela Landsbury after that, which I have on LP.

Spent the rest of the afternoon after lunch at the library. I had a lot to return, and in turn, took out three books, two of the most recent Garfield comic books, a cookbook of Pilsbury Bake-Off recipes, and three DVDs. Once again put away piles of DVDs, though the piles were a bit smaller this time. Some of it may have had to do with the improving weather; it may also have had to do with getting out earlier than I have in the last couple of weeks, arriving around 1PM instead of after 3.

I was in the library for a while. I didn't get out until after 4. I made a quick stop to see if Super Fresh had buttermilk; they did, but Acme's buttermilk is cheaper and lower in fat. I'll wait for them to restock.

Watched High School Musical 3: Senior Year after I came home and while I made salmon, spinach salad, and sauteed yellow squash and onions for dinner. This time, the energetic kids from East High find themselves involved with a school musical based after their lives...but with questions of college and life after high school looming, there's a matter of who will actually be in the show and who won't...

I know a lot of people find these musicals to be superficial and silly...but they're really no worse than the Grease movies or Good News, their spiritual grandparents. My biggest complaints from the previous movies remain. The solos are boring, the ensembles and small groups electrifying. The kids are talented, even when the script is banal. The costume designer still needs to be shot. The dancing is amazing. I hope to see all of these kids go on to other, better-written projects; maybe even see some of them in more adult-oriented movie musicals someday.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Dolls' Laundry

Today was Laundry Day. I was going to do it tomorrow, but I had no plans for today, so I figured, why not? In addition to my usual clothes, I washed all of the American Girls' clothing that can be cleaned in a machine - Little Jessa's pajamas and the rest of her Girl Scout uniform, most of Felicity and Molly's clothes (including Felicity's shift), and Samantha's summer sailor dress. (The majority of Sam's outfits are made of delicate dry-clean only fabrics.)

It was quiet at Dad's house. He was playing the guitar and looking up music on his laptop. Dolores and Uncle Ken watched TV. I ran to CVS for eggs while the laundry was in the dryer, then came back and chatted with everyone. Jessa had come home from work while I was at CVS; talked to her, too. (Jessa works as a cashier and go-fer girl at a local used car lot.)

Had just enough time to come home, dress the American Girls dolls and put theirs and my clothes away, eat a quick PB&J and spinach salad lunch, pack dinner, and change for work. Work was steady-to-dead, no problems other than some mildly obnoxious customers.

The weather behaved, too. It was the same as yesterday - on-and-off cloudy - but a bit warmer and not as windy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Breeze

And welcome to the first day of summer! Thankfully, it actually did feel like summer today, with 80-degree temperatures and lovely breezes. As of right now, the weather's not supposed to be anywhere near as crazy this week as it has been the past month - a few isolated thunderstorms and showers, but mostly 80-85 degrees and partly cloudy, which is fine by me.
Dinner With My Father

First of all, Happy Father's Day to all dads, including those whose "children" are four-legged.

It wasn't sunny when I finally woke up around quarter of 10, but it wasn't raining either, which was a good sign. I finished reading An Incomplete Revenge (good thing, too - it's due on Tuesday), wrote in my off-line journal, and listening to the Beatles Show. ("Past Masters" - songs that never made it to the Beatles' British albums - was the theme today.)

Had Oatmeal-Buttermilk Pancakes with homemade Fresh Summer Berry Syrup for breakfast, then called Dad in Erma to wish him a Happy Father's Day and talked to Mom. My sister Anny had to work today, so they were keeping an eye on Skylar and Colin.

Work was nuts when I came in. There was a line half-way across the front end for the Express Lane for a while, and it was even longer when the Express Lane checker was 15 minutes late. By the time 5 o'clock rolled around, it had slowed enough for me to leave with no problems.

I changed, frosted the Gold Cupcakes I'd baked for Dad with Light Cool Whip, and headed for Dad and Uncle Ken's house. Jessa had come by work earlier to buy pasta for herself for dinner and told me Dad and Jodie were out visiting Jodie's dad. I didn't expect them to be home, and they weren't. I said "hi" to Uncle Ken, who was watching a movie and resting, and left the cupcakes and a card for Dad in the kitchen.

I was sweeping the porch about 20 minutes later when I got a phone call. It was Dad. He and Jodie had almost literally just missed me. They really appreciated the cupcakes and card. Did I want to go out to dinner at the Oaklyn Manor Bar with them? Sure!

The sun was out in full force when we sat on the Manor's lovely veranda and outdoor bar and dining area. The veranda has a great view of West Clinton Avenue and Manor Avenue and attractive landscaping. Jodie had a hankering for pork roll. Dad had a small burger. I opted for my favorite Chicken Cheese Steak with fried onions. We shared a plate of cheese fries (with real cheese, none of that Cheez Whiz gunk). We talked about old times. Jessa came in as Jodie was sipping her second drink and had an iced tea. She wanted to ask Dad if he minded if she went to the Tuesday midnight showing of the new "Transformers" movie. (He did, but she talked him into letting her go anyway.) She ended up driving me home.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Washed Out

Headed out to the bank and the Farm Market first thing this morning to beat the crowds and the heavy storm clouds. I ended up avoiding neither. There was a line for strawberries and cherries when I arrived at in Collingswood; I bought them last. I needed a lot today, or I might have skipped the Farm Market all together. I waded through the huge Father's Day Weekend crowds to buy carrots, bananas, radishes, spinach, cool red onions with the tops still on (to replace the stringy-looking leeks), zucchini, and the first New Jersey blueberries and cucumbers of the season. Also picked up blueberry butter and two peanut butter cookies for a snack.

It started to rain lightly by the time I arrived at the Farm Market...but the rain picked up as I made my way around people and dogs. It was annoying, but it did it's job. When I returned to the first tables with the cherries and strawberries, the line was gone and I was able to buy my fruit in peace.

I was hoping the rain would let up, but that wasn't to be. I waited twice, once at the Farm Market and once under a tree, but the steady shower continued. I just rode home and got soaked.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon watching Rear Window and figuring out where to put all my new fruit and veggie finds. This is another James Stewart/Alfred Hitchcock movie from the 50s. It's not the mind-blower that Vertigo is, and it's been stolen from and spoofed endlessly, but I still enjoyed it. A photographer stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg spends his time watching his neighbors in his apartment neighborhood...and finally decides one of them killed their invalid wife when she mysteriously goes missing. Lots of tension here, and despite the premise it doesn't feel claustrophobic. It's essentially a three-person show, and Stewart is joined by two of the coolest ladies of the 1950s, future queen Grace Kelly and the hilarious Thelma Ritter.

It was still raining by around 1PM, not hard, but enough that I called Dad for a ride to work. After my wet ride, I didn't trust Mother Nature. And of course, by the time I got out of work, the sun was out. Work was steady to busy today, with no major problems.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Balancing Home and Work

Started today with this week's yoga class. It was pretty small, six women with teacher Micki. The emphasis today was on standing poses and balance. I can balance...as long as it's on two feet. I have a hard time on one foot, or anything that involves leaning on my shoulders. I just can't focus. It's hard to put things out of my mind, not to mention not see how much better half the class is doing.

Didn't really do much else for the rest of the day. The sun was out this morning; it was in and out for the rest of the day, but it was somewhat warmer than it has been and it never rained. I went for a ride across Newton River Park, then went home, did my (very late) budget and some other stuff on the computer, and did my bills.

Work was steady-to-dead tonight, no major problems other than a lot of people didn't have the coupon for the big six 12 packs of Coke for $12 sale. (It's on the back of the flyer, BTW.) It was dead when I finished and did my grocery shopping. Just as well. I didn't have much to pick up anyway - Post Bran Shredded Wheat (on sale and a coupon), yogurt, Smart Balance Butter Blend (on sale), ground turkey, single packs of salmon and flounder, cereal bars and granola bars on sale.

My schedule for next week is better, too. Same amount of hours, but early on Wednesday instead of late, 10-3.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Around Camden County in 12 Hours


(Laugh) "Well, someone's grumpy this morning!"

"Sorry, Rose. I thought it was the Acme trying to drag me out in this mess."

I heard from my sister Rose first thing this morning. Not that I would have slept much longer anyway. It was pouring when she called, a good, steady, soaking rain that beat on my roof like tom-toms. Rose asked me to run errands with her later; I accepted. I had no plans for the afternoon and evening anyway.

Actually, I really had no major plans at all today. The rain subsided long enough for me to run to Collingswood to deliver a small bag of donations to Friends in Deed Thrift Shop. I bought two Disney book-and-records (a Pinocchio from 1969 and Tales of Uncle Remus from a year later) and two cassettes (the soundtrack from When Harry Met Sally and Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song) from the thrift shop. I was going to peek at the WebKinz at the Variety Store, but there was a sign on the door that said they'd be out for ten minutes. I didn't feel like waiting, so I just left.

I wanted a nice ride to test my bike, so I took the long way home across Newton River Park, then rode down Collings Avenue to Crescent Road and the Black Horse Pike. I took the Pike back to Kendall Boulevard, by which time it was lightly showering. It wasn't enough to really get me wet, just to annoy me. Didn't help that traffic was fairly heavy on the Pike, too, and the sidewalks on that stretch are a disaster area.

Had tilapia, sauteed squash and leeks, and a spinach salad for lunch when I got in. I started Molasses-Oat-Whole Wheat Bread while watching Around the World In 80 Days. Based after the classic Jules Verne adventure novel, a well-to-do Englishman named Phineas Fogg (David Niven) bets the members of a staid London men's club that he can't travel around the world in 80 days. One could probably travel around the world in 80 minutes nowadays, but in 1872, when the book was written, this was an impossible undertaking. Nevertheless, Fogg and his indomitable manservant Passapartout (Mexican comedian Cantiflas) find themselves riding from one picturesque location to the next on everything from a train to an elephant to a contraption rigged up from train parts and a sailcloth. On the way, they save Indian princess Shirley MacLaine from being sacrificed by a cult and determined Scotland Yard inspector Robert Newman.

This must have been something to see on the big screen. I don't think even the big widescreen TVs they have nowadays would be able to capture the effect of the breathtaking cinematography, the lush jungles and the arid American West. No wonder it won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1957.

The other reason was likely sheer star power. Charismatic producer Mike Todd coined the phrase "cameo appearance" for the dozens of celebrities he cajoled into taking small roles. Before the credits came up, I counted Robert Morley, Charles Boyer, Sir John Gielguld, Glyns Johns, Hermoine Gingold, Ronald Coleman, Peter Lorre, Red Skeleton, Marlene Dietrich, George Raft, Frank Sinatra, Buster Keaton, Joe E Brown, Andy Devine, and Edmund Lowe...and those were just the ones I recognized! (I can't believe I didn't realize that was Beatrice Lille towards the end.)

I got bored after the bread came after the oven, so I swept the porch and went for a short walk to pick up some brown sugar at Doria's Deli around the corner (it's still cheaper there than at the Acme). Went for a short walk down Kendall after that. It had stopped raining some time after I came home, and while it was still cool and cloudy, it wasn't raining.

I listened to the two records I bought today and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band before Rose arrived around 6. It took a lot longer to shop than I thought it would. Not only did she have several stops to make, but we couldn't find the Michael's in Deptford she was looking for, no matter how much we drove around. There has to be at least 500 shopping centers and malls in the Deptford area, and we could NOT find that darn Michael's. She bought food and treats for her puppies at PetSmart, new throw pillows at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and found what she'd been looking for - fill for a basket she was making for a friend's bridal shower - at a huge Hallmark. I just bought Father's Day cards for our dads at Hallmark. We stopped really quickly at a Wendy's drive-in for dinner. I bought a burger and a salad; she said she'd be happy with cereal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Not-So Fantastic Weather

Ugh. The weather remained the same - cloudy, damp, and way too cool for this time of year. This is getting ridiculous. It wasn't so bad in April, or even in May, but it shouldn't still be doing this in June.

Today was really rather dull. I watched Fantastic Four while baking Gold Cupcakes for Father's Day and working on editing this month's Monkees Role Play. (Which I did post, BTW - it's now available at Lauren's and my Monkees site.) Fantastic Four wasn't terribly exciting, either. Four astronauts and their wealthy backer are hit with cosmic radiation while in space that gives them powers not unlike the X-Men's. Absent-minded Reed Richards now has a flexible, rubber body. Big Ben Grimm is even bigger, thanks to a rock-hard shell around his body. Hot-headed Johnny Storm can generate and manipulate fire, while his big sister Susan can become invisible and manipulate light. I rented this because I liked The Thing in the 60s cartoon that used to run on Boomerang. It was ok, but the cast was boring (I'm not terribly fond of Jessica Alba) and the script veered between campy and melodramatic. The villain was bland, too. I liked it enough that I may rent the sequel (which I've also seen at the Haddon Township Library)...but it's unlikely that I'll buy either movie.

And of course, after just being cloudy all day, it had to start raining right before I had to go to work. I still took my bike. It was a light shower, and I'd been inside all day. Work was steady-to-dead, with no major problems. It started raining as I rode home, but once again, it wasn't enough for me to get soaked.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Help Is On the Way

Dad ended up helping me with the bikes. I told him about the bad back wheel on the cruiser and walking to work yesterday when I went over to his and Uncle Ken's house to do the laundry. We drove back to my apartment to take a look at them. He ended up going to a bike shop in Cherry Hill to get a new wheel and a tire and inner tube for the mountain bike while I waited for my laundry to finish. (He said he didn't need me to come with him; I offered.)

The bike shop mechanic had confirmed that yes, I needed a new wheel. Badly. It was so bent out of shape, it would cost more to fix than replace. Dad came home just as the laundry was out of the dryer (darn good timing) and we rode home together. I put my laundry away while he worked on the bikes. He did most of the repair work. Put the wheel on the cruiser and made sure that was all right. The mountain bike was more complicated. I had the new brake pads for that, but the brakes needed to be adjusted and Dad couldn't figure that part out. Oh well. They were on and the tire was replaced.

I had a very quick lunch, then rode the cruiser over to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session. The chain came off while I was riding down West Clinton Avenue. Unlike the trouble I had with the chain a few months ago, I was able to get it back on with no problems.

The library was busy, not surprising given the cool and cloudy weather and the fact that most of the local kids had just gotten off one of their last days of school (if they're not done with school already). While the stack of DVDs wasn't quite as high as the last couple of weeks, there was still plenty to do. I returned all of the DVDs, organized the children's as best as possible, and took out three DVDs for myself - Fantastic Four (I've had a lot of luck with Marvel superheroes lately), the David Niven Around the World In 80 Days, and another 50s Hitchcock film, Rear Window.

I made a quick stop at Super Fresh on my way home for Smart Balance butter. Didn't like the price, but I did end up getting milk, which was only slightly more expensive for a half-gallon of skim than WaWa.

Made spinach salad, mashed sweet potatoes, applesauce, a leftover Lemon-Wine Chicken Leg, and sauteed summer squash and onions for dinner while watching Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. One of the odd cult comedies Steve Martin did in the early 80s, Dead Men is a tribute to the Hollywood film noir mysteries of the 1940s and 50s...with scenes from many of them spliced in, allowing Martin and femme fatale Rachel Ward to interact with the likes of Humphery Bogart, James Cagney, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardener, Cary Grant, and Alan Ladd, among others. The humor is dry and the story doesn't make a lot of sense, but if you're a fan of film noir, old movies, or Martin, there's enough wit here to make it worth a look.

(Trivia: This was the last movie with costumes designed by long-time Hollywood favorite Edith Head, who died during it's filming, and the movie is dedicated to her and to all the behind-the-scenes people who made Hollywood the glamor capital of the world in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.)

(Oh, and my neighbor came over a bit later and fixed the chain on my bike. He also switched the good bike seat on the mountain bike over to the cruiser bike. I can just get the mountain bike a new seat; you can get bike seats anywhere for a song.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not the Best Fixer-Upper

Fairly quiet day. I attempted to fix the bikes on my own after finishing up Get Smart and watching Meatballs this morning. The back tire and inner tube on the mountain bike blew. No problem; I was going to swap it with the new tire on the cruiser bike with the bad wheel. Only thing is, I forgot you have to remove the wheels to get the darn tires off. I just don't have the tools. I really need to buy my own set of wrenches.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing research on library careers. Apparently, it's still a fairly popular job, despite more and more of the librarians' chores being taken by computers. I wonder if I could get a job with a "special" library? Not law (that's Rose's territory), but a museum or company, or maybe a theater? There's certainly enough of all three in the area.

I did end up walking to work. It was sunny, windy, and actually pretty nice...too nice to be begging for rides. I was a little late, but not nearly as late as yesterday.

It might be just as well that I did walk. Clouds started to gather somewhere around 6PM. By 6:30, we were in the midst of a knock-down, drag-out storm. Our lights blinked, and while the computers remained up and running, our debit/credit card system did briefly go offline. Other than that, there were no major problems. The storm timed itself just right. I was walking out the door just as the last sprinkles of rain were reflecting the setting sun.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just Plain Bad

I generally did not have a good day. First of all, I was up really, really late, around 11. I hate getting up that late. It really throws off my internal clock. I was up so late, I called Mom before I had breakfast/brunch/lunch so she wouldn't worry.

I ended up having a LONG talk with Mom. Yes, I'm frustrated with my job. I hate my job...but it provides money. And yes, I KNOW the economy is bad, so could everyone please stop using that as an excuse?

Just let me vent for a moment. I'm scared. I'm paralyzed with fear. Mom says I should take risks. How? Every time I take a risk, it never pans out. I expected to get a real job within six months to a year of moving here. I expected to get a real job within six months to a year of getting out of college. I spent over a year putting in applications to book stores and FYE. I talked to radio stations and newspapers in Cape May and Atlantic Counties, applied to casino offices and real estate offices, and talked to every employment agency in the Lower Township/Wildwood area, including Unemployment. Nothing worked. Nothing happened. Nothing changed.

Same old story. Nobody wanted me. I have experience in retail. What did the bookstores want? Someone to work the cafes. I have experience as a secretary. What did the real estate offices want? Their best friends to work for them. I wrote newspaper articles in college. What did the newspapers want? Someone who could travel. God only knows what the casinos wanted. I don't exactly look like a Rockette. They probably wanted someone cute that the gamblers could look at.

Everyone wonders why I'm afraid? How can I talk to anyone? Every time I try, I never know what to say. I look more foolish than Max! I just get upset and make myself look like an idiot. I can't talk without embarrassing myself. It's easier to just get upset because that's what I've always done. It's easier to do what you've always done, especially when you're scared. When you're scared, instinct takes over.

Of course I get upset when I make a mistake. I shouldn't have made that mistake. The words just come out, even though I know they shouldn't. How can you stop putting yourself down when it's second nature...and when at the time, you think it's true? If you're so smart and so wonderful, why can't you stop things from going wrong?

Even when I know things are going wrong, I can't bring myself to change them. I'd rather they just went away and/or changed themselves. I've spent a lot of my life being told that I should ignore things, and they'd just go away. I'm too scared. I don't want to confront anything. What if things go wrong? What if I get hurt? What if I ruin everything?

The back wheel on the cruiser bike has been bent for a while now. The spokes are bent and loose. I have half the neighborhood searching for a back tire for that bike, but people just aren't getting rid of cruiser bikes like they used to. I tried to ride to work on it, but it was rubbing too hard against the frame. I ended up walking it and being twelve minutes late. I didn't get in trouble, but for me, losing money is punishment enough without anyone at work saying anything. Two dollars means two dollars less on my paycheck at the end of the week. It means two dollars less in the bank. Two dollars less to pay the rent and bills with. It was too dead for me to even make up the time later.

The mountain bike has a flat tire and still needs the brakes replaced. I want to take the good inner tube off the cruiser until I can order a wheel for it online, since I can't seem to find one anywhere else, but my neighbor can't do it until Tuesday. I got so upset! I angrily kicked the wheel, trying to bend it back into shape...and behaving stupidly and immaturely around people who have been very nice to me.

How do you eliminate fear? How do you tell yourself to get a move on and stop acting like a stupid, spoiled-rotten, immature little idiot? If I were a real human being, I'd have a normal job and a normal group of friends, like every other 30 year old who went to college and has a career. I feel so horrible. (And the fact that I got...that time of the month...yesterday and it's way too early isn't helping.)

On one hand, I want to change...but how do you change when you're scared? What if I lose things? What if I can't talk to Lauren anymore, or don't have the time for bike rides in the park, or can't just go where I want to? If I meet new people, doesn't that mean I won't have time for old people? When you get new friends, there's no time for the old friends. That's how I've lost friends before. When people meet someone more interesting than me, they suddenly don't have time for me anymore.

Most of the time, I feel like there's no one who understands me. You can't tell people your problems when you're unique. No one else lives alone, with just stuffed animals. No one else would rather spend quiet time baking or reading, or has the time during the week to go on long biking or shopping trips to the middle of nowhere. Everyone would rather take the car and hurry, hurry, hurry!

I'm angry and tired and frustrated and my stomach hurts. I know I sound like a whiny, spoiled brat, but there's few other places I can complain to. I wish I had someone to come home to who could talk to me and hug me and tell me everything is going to be ok, because they know just what to do in every situation.

When do you stop hurting? When do you stop being afraid?
I Dance Alone

This was a story I wrote a couple of years ago based after a real incident in fourth grade....but I still often feel this way today. I still dance alone.


I dance alone. I dance alone in the moonlight in the backyard. I dance alone because I have no friends. All of the other boys and girls are inside, dancing with each other, but I dance alone. Nobody wants to come out in the backyard with me. It’s a warm spring night, and the moon is really bright, but I dance alone.

This is my first boy-girl birthday party, and I dance alone. I bet I was only invited because everybody in my fourth-grade class was. The girls don’t want me here. They are all pretty and have long hair and wear dresses with ruffles on the skirts. I’m not pretty at all. I’m too tall and my hair is short and I already have a chest and I’m fat. None of the other girls are fat, or tall, or have a chest in fourth grade.

I dance alone, because none of the boys will dance with me. They dance the slow songs with the pretty girls, but I dance alone. Even Ryan, who is tall and thin and doesn’t smile, and Dan, who is fat and round, won’t dance with me. Dan’s sorta nice to me sometimes in school, and he won’t dance with me. The other boys don’t even see me.

I dance alone because it’s easier that way. I can do what I want when I’m alone, and no one else will complain or say I’m not doing it right. It’s cool in the backyard, not stuffy, like the living room where all of the other kids are. The living room smells like greasy food and too many people, but the backyard smells fresh. The grass under my sneakers is softer than any carpet.

I dance alone because there’s more room for me outside, and the crickets and the owls aren’t going to tell me I’m not wanted. Well, the kids didn’t say that, either, but most of them acted like I wasn’t there. The crickets and the owls don’t mind if I like things that the other kids don’t, like old music our parents listened to and weird science fiction movies with light swords and stuff. They don’t mind that I look funny, walk funny, or talk to myself because there isn’t anyone else to talk to. Crickets and owls don’t crowd you out when they play Spin the Bottle, or make fun of the book you gave Laurie the birthday girl, or call you a baby because you’d rather talk to Laurie’s mom than watch horror movies.

I dance alone because I always have, and I probably always will. I can be myself out here in the moonlight. Crickets and owls don’t care if you aren’t normal, if all the other kids think you’re nuts. Sometimes I wish I was in there, dancing with a boy, but then I remember that they don’t like me because I’m not like the other girls who are pretty and fun. I spend all my time alone. The boys at school call me “Fatty” and put glue on my chair, and the girls ignore me at lunch when I talk about old music or light swords.

I dance alone because you can’t dance with someone else when there’s only one of you.


I really did go to a boys-girls party towards the end of fourth grade. Although I changed their names to protect the (not-so) innocent, "Dan," "Laurie," and "Ryan" were real classmates at the time. I really did spend a lot of the night talking to the birthday girl's mother and avoiding the other kids. I felt awkward playing Spin the Bottle, and when none of the boys wanted to dance with me, I went outside in the backyard and danced by myself.

I still vividly remember that night, how it felt to dance all alone in the cool air of a night in late spring, to know that an older woman and the owls and crickets were the only ones who wanted you, that the darkness would never hurt you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again

It was on-and-off cloudy and incredibly humid but not raining when I headed out for this week's Saturday errands. I was up a little late with Lauren last night and was later than usual getting out. The bank wasn't busy, but the Farm Market was. It was three and four deep at some of the tables, people ignoring the humidity and the clouds as they picked up their goodies before the next round of storms. I was able to get carrots, strawberries, mushrooms, little organic yellow squash (a dollar for four...and the farmer threw in a fifth free because it was the last one), and the first New Jersey cherries of the season.

Stopped at one yard sale on the way home, but there was nothing of interest, despite the proprietor's claim that "no one walks away from here without a sale!" I saw a sign for another, but the heavy clouds were starting to gather again, and the humidity was getting worse. I made a brief stop at CVS for cheap large eggs ($1.49), then just rode home.

It's probably just as well. I was right about the weather. Another thunderstorm rolled through about an hour after I got in. It wasn't as noisy as some of the ones we've had lately, but I'm still glad I wasn't out in it. It subsided just in time for me to ride to work. (I really didn't want to drag anyone out in a thunderstorm.)

The weather seems to have cleared out work. The Acme was on-and-off busy all day and downright quiet by the time I was finished, with no major problems. I was able to do my shopping in relative peace. Didn't need much anyway - yogurt, peanut butter (had a coupon and the Skippy Natural is still on sale), granola bars, chicken legs and cubed steaks (both were on good sales), and bananas. Supervalu, the Acme's parent company, just replaced the old Acme brand ice cream with a fancier packaging and name, and they're unloading the original brand for $1.99. I grabbed Light Rocky Road for a treat.

I didn't get lucky the third time around. A steady shower was falling when I walked out of the Acme. I didn't feel like calling for a ride (and trying to load the cruiser bike into someone's car), and I wasn't crazy about standing around and waiting for the rain to let up, either. I just rode home in the rain and got wet.

Oh, and I continued my Get Smart: Season 3 marathon. The pop culture of the swinging mid-60s makes its way into this batch of episodes more often than usual. "Don't Look Back" is a well-done riff on The Fugitive, directed by Don Adams himself. "The Groovy Guru" spoofs the hippie counterculture and Laugh-In. "The Little Black Book" features another famous Don - Rickles - as an old army buddy of Max's who gets tangled in a case when he mistakes Max's book of Kaos numbers for his bachelor address book. Apparently, Rickles and Don Adams really were good friends in real life, and their ad-libs drove the episode so over-budget that what was originally planned as an ordinary one-part story became a two-parter.

(Oh, and Rickles isn't the only comedian who shows up on this disk. I also counted Bob Hope, Milton Berle, and Larry Storch of F-Troop as "The Groovy Guru." It became something of a game of "name that famous 60s comedian" for a while.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Digital TV Revolution Is Wasted On Me

The morning started out gloomy, wet, and humid again. I watched the second disc of Get Smart, baked Molasses-Oatmeal Cookies, dressed the Sailor Soldiers in their summer outfits, and worked on editing the role-play. (All the Soldiers got their usual retro minidresses and poodle skirts except for Sailor Moon. Her cullottes were stretched so badly, I had to tie a ribbon around her waist to keep them on, and her "top" was an old baby doll shirt wrapped several times around her chest. I ditched them and gave her a short silver skirt and the pink and silver tank top from the 80s/90s gown collection instead.)

One of my all-time favorite Get Smart episodes was on the second disc. I couldn't remember if it was the third or the fourth season that had "The King Lives?", the wonderful spoof of The Prisoner of Zenda. Max takes the place of the king of a fictional European country after he's shot right before his coronation. If the king is not crowned, his half-brother will take over...and cooperate with Kaos. They did a pretty accurate mock-up of Zenda, right down to Max falling for the King's betrothed. And for a guy who is clumsy at just about everything else, Maxwell Smart is one heck of a swordsman!

Work was steady-to-dead, no major problems. I even got to finish a little early in order to take a work-related survey. Maybe the weather cleared things out. It was still cloudy when I went to work, but the sun was just starting to come out as I came home, despite it remaining sticky, hot, and humid.

As for tonight's digital TV revolution...to paraphrase Oscar the Grouch, "I stick out my tongue!" I don't see what the big deal is. How many people are there left with antennas on their TVs anyway, two?

I'm not old enough to really remember the Golden Age of Analog Television, between approximately the early 50s and the early 80s. I do remember Mom having one of those huge old wooden box TVs, but it was always in color, and both sides of the family has had cable since the early 80s, so we never had bleeding channels or channels skipping or whatever. (I wonder if this is what it was like when TV started broadcasting in color?)

One of my fondest memories of no-longer existing TV phenomenons involves the beginning and end of the broadcasting day. It was well into the 80s before many cable channels ran programming 24/7. I would get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings and creep into the living room to watch test patterns and the daily listing of programming on Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel. (Yes, I was that much of a couch potato as a kid.) At 6AM sharp, the translucent glass Mickey Mouse head would fly across the satellite in space, or the Nickelodeon ball would bounce through the air, and I'd know Cableland was ready to begin it's broadcast day!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dark and Cloudy Day

Not a very busy day. After Oatmeal Squares and bananas for breakfast, I started out to FYE on foot. It was still cloudy, humid, and cool, and it looked like it might have rained earlier that morning. It wasn't really bike weather. Besides, I had no really major plans for the day and I wasn't in any hurry.

Got to FYE after a quick stop at the Acme to use their bathroom. Neither FYE nor the Acme were really busy, not surprising given the weather and the day. It took me a while to find what I was looking for, but I finally ended up with Get Smart: Season 3, as well as a DVD copy of the 1979 Bill Murray summer camp comedy Meatballs (I got my video copy from my stepdad and it's starting to show its age) and the classic Steve Martin film noir spoof Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

I spent the rest of the afternoon after I got home dusting, putting up the summer and patriotic decorations, and watching the first disc of Get Smart. Some of the show's best episodes come from the early third season, including the Emmy-winner "Maxwell Smart, Private Eye" and "One of Our Olives Is Missing," with Carol Burnett guest-starring as a country singer.

Also organized the box of American Girls items I got yesterday. I tossed a thin robe that had a hole in it and a few broken odds-and-ends, but most everything did seem to be intact. I left the costumes, the fur coat, Little Jessa's pants and the rest of her Girl Scout costume, and the small parts in the big box. The good dresses, like Felicity's Rose Garden Gown and Samantha's clothing, went in Sam's box. I managed to fit the bed under the vanity chair where the Efframbee fairy tale dolls sit, where the old bed was. I had less luck with the bike. I just couldn't get the front wheel and handlebar to screw in right. I may just ditch it in the back room.

(And like last Thursday, it's just as well that I didn't do any running around this afternoon. It rained shortly after I got home and rained off and on for the rest of the day.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Balance With the Family

Did a very full Yoga class this morning, 19 people including the teacher Jill. Good thing we mostly worked on back stretches and bends today, which aren't things that require a lot of room.

I stopped at Rite Aid after class for Listerine, then headed back to Oaklyn. I rode by Dad and Uncle Ken's house on my way home and saw Jessa's car in the driveway. Yes, she was in, and I finally asked about the American Girl dolls she said she wanted to give me. Turns out she had three - Felicity, Molly, and a "Just Like Me" custom doll made to look like Jessa herself, complete with long black hair and pretty almond-shaped eyes. I drove the dolls home on the bike. Jessa said she'd bring over their accessories after she ran some errands.

After I got in, I brushed the girls' hair. Jess told me that Molly was her favorite of the three, and she looked it. She had pink marks on her legs, and it looked like her hair had been cut and dyed a reddish shade. Still, she was otherwise intact. The Chinese-American doll (whom I dubbed Little Jessa) and Felicity were in far better shape. Both wore the outfits the dolls came in when purchased. (In fact, Felicity wore her ORIGINAL original outfit, the lovely orange-and-red patterned dress she came in until a few years ago. The current Felicity doll comes in a lavender dress that I don't think looks nearly as good on her.)

Molly got pigtails (I couldn't think of what else to do with her shoulder-length bob). Little Jess imitated her "mother"'s messy ponytail. I left Felicity's hair in the headband she wore - it looked fine the way it was. Molly was wearing what looked like a cheap doll outfit and a long fur coat. I took the fur coat off and ditched the outfit - it was stained and ripped in the middle of the jumper.

Had a big lunch after I cleaned up the girls (salmon, strawberries, a spinach and radish salad, and a slice of Buttermilk Whole-Wheat Rye Bread with plum butter), then went on the computer for a little while. Jess came over shortly after finishing today's WebKinz session. (I wanted to check out the new General Store theme while I had the time to do so.) She came bearing a box filled with other things for the girls, a trundle bed with a ton of linen, a blue bike for Molly, and Molly's huge backgrounds.

Turns out Jessa, the only child of a fairly well-off middle-aged couple, had quite a bit of American Girls stuff, a fairly great feat given it's hefty price tag. Felicity only had one other outfit, her pink spring "pinner" dress with the pinafore you're supposed to attach with straight pins (likely long gone). Molly and Jessa, however, had a whole wardrobe, from Molly's plaid school jumper and pink print flannel pajamas for Jessa to fancy costumes (mermaid, fairy, and most of Molly's hula get-up). I changed Felicity into her spring outfit and Molly into hers (a pinafore-style dress with huge ruffled sleeves). Little Jessa kept her short-sleeved shirt on but was changed into the green shorts that originally went with a Girl Scout uniform.

Like Molly, not everything was in the best of shape. Shoes were missing. The handlebar on the bike was loose, and it's minus a pedal. Jessa said she'd once accidentally sat on Molly's glasses and broke them. The bed was cheap plastic, but it was a trundle that would fit all four dolls. Still, given that Jess is not the world's most organized person (her room generally looks like it was for nuclear target practice), I'm surprised she came up with as much as she did.

(And I especially appreciated the bed, cheap plastic or not. Sam's bed was originally the wicker bassinet for Anny's baby dolls. Mom had refitted it with a new mattress and a ruffled comforter and pillow that matched Sam's Victorian wardrobe. It's been moved around and battered and shoved for over 20 years, though, and a lot of the wicker was breaking. Not to mention it never fit Sam all that great anyway. I kept the pillow and the blanket, but put the bassinet and the stained mattress in the trash.)

My late work night (5-10) was steady, with no major problems. I did returns off-and-on for the last hour.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Communication Breakdown


That's the first thing I heard when I shot out of bed this morning. A massive thunderstorm passed over the Delaware Valley area between 8 and 8:30AM. It was a big one, too. Thunder like sonic booms, pyrotechnics that could probably be seen on Pluto, enough water to flood Pittsburgh, the works. I sat in my bed, shivering and glad that I was off work today (and pitying all of the people who had to get work in this...and worse, all the people who were trying to get their kids to their one of their last days of school).

Thankfully, the rain had long stopped by the time I'd gotten dressed and finished my oatmeal. The clouds remained, however. Unlike the last cloudy, post-storm days we've had, it wasn't cold. It was warm and incredibly humid. And wet. Very wet. So wet, most things weren't drying...including the path between the VFW parking lot and the train tracks. Except for the pile of mulch, it was basically a tributary of the river. I ended up going down Manor and up West Clinton instead to do this week's laundry session at Dad's.

It was once again quiet at Dad's house. He was watching black-and-white movies by English director Michael Powell on TCM when I came in. I laid on the big, soft chocolate-brown suede couch and read the newest Maisie Dobbs book, An Incomplete Revenge. Dad messed around on his laptop. It really made for a very cozy morning and early afternoon.

(I also found another path between the tracks and the VFW going home. This one was behind the VFW itself, and while it was choked with weeks and sticker bushes, the growth had kept it from turning into one massive puddle.)

I thought I was getting together with Rose at 1PM, but she never appeared. I had peanut butter and jelly on Buttermilk Rye-Whole Wheat Bread, applesauce, and strawberries for lunch. I made Extra-Moist Lemon Cupcakes (which turned out really well - so soft and velvety, you'd think they came from a box) from the cupcake cook book I took out of the library last week. I read Maisie.

I called Rose twice, the second time to tell her I really needed to get to the library and we'd try again another time. She called me back just as I was leaving for the library. Turns out it was sheer miscommunication. She thought I hadn't said when to meet. I thought she said 1, but I might have heard her wrong, or she heard me wrong. In any event, she had classes and I had DVDs to return. We'll get together another time.

The library was busy for it being so late. Maybe it was the weather. The sun came out briefly while I was on my way there, but it soon disappeared behind another veil of dull gray clouds. Once again, there were huge piles of DVDs to shelve. I organized the children's DVDs as well. They really needed it, especially with all the ones coming in. Didn't take any out this time, though.

It was really late by the time I left. I considered eating at one of the many restaurants and diners in the area, but finally decided I'd be better off saving the money, and I had plenty of farm market fruit and veggies at home. I ended up with the last of the Crab and Asparagus pie, sauteed turnip greens with shredded carrots, and mashed turnips with Smart Balance Butter Blend, and the cupcakes for dessert.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Heat of the Jungle

I slept in this morning, mostly because I didn't sleep well last night. My sinuses decided to act up, making my nose stuffy and runny. I took an allergy pill and finally crashed around quarter of 3. I wasn't really up for doing much, so I just had breakfast and watched The Asphalt Jungle.

The Asphalt Jungle of the title is the red-light district of a mid-western city (Chicago?), which has seen many burglaries and much violence over the past few years. A little German man who was once a criminal mastermind breaks out of prison claiming he's devised the perfect heist, and rounds up several men who can help him with the job...all of whom have their own reasons for being involved with crime.

Make no mistake, this ain't Ocean's Eleven. There's no glamor to this gritty, well-acted tale of a heist gone wrong and the things men will do for money...and what their women will do to keep them. The cast is excellent; special kudos to Sterling Hayden and Jean Hagan as the "hoodlum" who acts as the group muscle and his supportive girlfriend, Louis Calhern as the lawyer who finds himself bankrolling the operation despite being bankrupt himself, and Marilyn Monroe (yes, that Marilyn) in a small role his "niece" whom he uses for an alibi. The moody black-and-white cinematography is also excellent, adding nicely to the dark, decayed atmosphere.

It was getting a little late after Jungle ended. I did have enough time to head to WaWa for milk and have a decent lunch before work. The scattered thunderstorms that were predicted for today have yet to occur. It was off-and-on sunny for most of the day, warm and humid. By the time I rode home from work, it had cooled off considerably and was much windier.

Work, BTW, was steady all night, with no major problems.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Today was absolutely, positively gorgeous, in the 70s, sunny, and a little windy. I had Peanut Butter Molasses Pancakes and blackberries for breakfast and called Mom. She was on her way out to work on the garden, happy to finally be able to get out there after another week of constant rain. Keefe was babysitting at Anny's; Dad was out on his motorcycle.

Mom told me that my 4-year-old nephew Skylar had another seizure a few weeks ago. Anny was able to get him to the hospital quicker this time, now that she knew the symptoms. They gave him medication...but it's apparently messing with the medication he already takes to help him with his aggressiveness. I wish he didn't have to take anything at all, but Mom says it really helps him. She said they'd revised the medication and he was fine when she watched him last night.

She also told me that Rose's bruise was feeling much better...and so was she in general. She'd just found out she had a 3.0 grade average at law school! I called her after Mom headed for the garden to congratulate her. Yes, she was feeling much better now, just busy with work and classes. She said she might be willing to come over to my place on Tuesday; I'll call her tomorrow to confirm.

I did some stuff on the computer as the Beatles show on WOGL ended. (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band was the theme this morning.) Yahoo! Messenger went down twice last night while I was chatting with Lauren, so I updated to the new one. As I cleared my drives and defragged, I looked out my window at the birds chirping and the squirrels frolicking, and I thought it's just too nice to be in here!

So, I went out. I stopped briefly at Dad's to say "hi" to him and Jodie and see if Jessa was around (she wasn't), then strolled down to West Clinton, around to Kendall, and over to the river at the end of Goff. I love going down there. There's a concrete landing where small craft launches, and it has a spectacular view of the river, Audubon Park, and the ramp between Oaklyn and the White Horse Pike. The breeze felt lovely under the trees, with their huge, mature green leaves. Even as I left, two young men in a van with a canoe on top drove up to the landing.

Work was very busy, more than last weekend. I had some problems in the express line this evening. One older woman thought she had the money to pay for her order...but her debit/credit card just would not go through. She eventually had to take off half her order before it worked. She held up a very long line...and had a full cart and should not have been in the express lane in the first place!

Oh, and congratulations to all Tony Award winners! I have the Tonys on in the living room as I type this. I especially loved the Rock of Ages number. The guy in the printed tux tee who got to pick on Liza Minellei was hilarious. The number from Next to Normal is on now. I can see why this show's received so many positive reviews - this number's devastating, especially if you know anyone who really does suffer from depression. (And Carrie Fisher's description was pretty funny. Hit a little too close to home there?)

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Berry Sweet Day

Started off the day with the last of the Kashi Shredded Wheat with strawberries and blueberries and Strawberry Shortcake. Strawberry invites her international friends for a "Friendship Festival" at Strawberry Land. She's excited to have Tea Blossom of Plum Blossom Province and her panda Marza stay with her...but the girls learn a lesson in compromise and making friends when they lie about not liking each other's favorite foods and activities. It takes making a few "friendship cakes" to help the American and oriental girls patch up hurt feelings and realize that friends don't always have to like the same things.

Caught the first half of The Care Bears while doing the dishes and getting ready to head out. When little Emma feels left out after her brothers tell her she can't play treasure hunt with them, the Bears bring the girl up to Care-A-Lot to help them with another kind of treasure hunt. Items are going missing all over town. Emma claims to be an expert treasure hunter...but can she foil a Grizzle plot?

It was still cloudy and cool when I made my way out for my Saturday errands, but the rain seemed to be long gone. I was in and out of the quiet bank. The farm market was far busier, with lots of people and dogs out enjoying the lack of rain. I saw a little black poodle who reminded me of my Beanie Baby black poodle Gigi and a trio of very cute pug puppies. I was at the market early enough this time to get radishes and bananas. I also picked up strawberries, spinach, turnips with their tops on, and real black-strap molasses. (I took a small lick of the molasses when I got in. Whew, is it strong! I'm going to have wonderful gingerbread and spice cookies!)

There were several yard sales today. I rode around to a few in Collingswood and in Oaklyn, but my only find was a set of cute mint-condition Powerpuff Girls small stuffed dolls. I used to watch that show in college. It was so funny. Blossom's my favorite. I love her hair.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon after getting in on my computer. (As far as I can tell, the internet's working fine, at least for now. We'll see what happens.) It was still a little cloudy when I came home, but by the time I headed for work, the sun was shining and the clouds were breaking up. By the time I finished work and grocery shopping, the clouds were almost gone, the sun shown brightly, and it was much warmer.

Work was on-and-off steady for most of the evening, though it began to pick up considerably by the time I finished. There were problems all day with the $2.77 Acme water sale. You get 3 24 packs of Acme water for $2.77 if you buy all three...and ONLY if you buy three. Most people were pretty good about it. It's still $3.77 if you only buy one or two, and that's still cheap for water. Everyone kept claiming they hadn't seen the sign. I know there has to be a sign back there, and I know darn well there's one that's quite clear in the flyers.

The last customers of the day weren't thrilled either when a woman who couldn't bend over asked the bagger to get her a cart...and he didn't come back in with a cart. The manager ended up doing it.

It was still busy when I did my own shopping. I picked up yogurt, yeast, apples, blackberries, Lipton green tea, and several items I had coupons for - Quaker Oatmeal Squares, the new Fiber Quaker Granola Bars, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter's baking margarine.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Solving the Internet Mystery

The Verizon repair man showed up around 11:30, just as I finished making the bed and washing the windows. He was really nice. Yes, he detected a flaw in the signal, and it turned out to be an outside wire problem, likely squirrels chewing on cables. (The downside of living next-door to a park.) It was raining too hard today for him to do any work this morning, but he said he'll be back tomorrow to fix the problem.

I finished vacuuming, then had lunch. Since the computer was already on, I spent the rest of the afternoon until work doing stuff online. (It went down briefly last night, but hasn't gone down since.) I ended up calling Dad for a ride to work. There was no end to the rain. It was dreary, cold, and not really a bike day.

Work was steady-to-dead, no problems, no relief, and out on time. I got the best paycheck I've received in ages (those extra hours last weekend, including Memorial Day, literally ended up paying off) and this week's schedule. Good news - pretty much the same amount of hours as this week and the same two days off. Bad news - late hours, including 5-10 on Wednesday.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nothing But Raindrops Fallin' On My Head

First of all, if anyone from Verizon is reading this...could you not call people four times the day before someone's supposed to do repairs? Once is enough. And don't call people in the morning when they're trying to sleep, either. I was up late and awoke to the sound of a ringing phone and a canned message saying Verizon knew about my internet problem and would send someone around...twice in less than a half-hour. I got two more calls in the course of the day.

The weather was gloomy, too. It rained when I got up, rather hard, too. I didn't have counseling until noon, but I decided to leave a little early to avoid the showers. I spent the extra half-hour browsing in the Collingswood Library.

(I didn't take anything out. I let my Collingswood Library card expire over a year ago. They have an ok non-fiction section, but their fiction section's almost as small as Oaklyn's. Rose is right - we don't have very good libraries here. They really need to encourage more of these small libraries to join the county system and expand. The Collingswood, Audubon, Oaklyn, Haddon Heights, and Haddonfield libraries are all independent. Maybe Oaklyn wouldn't be having money troubles if it had the county system to back up its finances.)

Counseling was productive. We discussed my desire to be a library, and what's keeping me from my goals. First of all, I hate my job, but it's there. It's stable. It provides money. If you ask anyone else in the US right now, that's all that should matter. That's what everyone here keeps telling me - don't leave your job. Don't change anything. The economy's too bad. There's nothing out there. You're making money. That's what counts.

Not if you're losing your sanity, too. I know I'm better than this. I'm tired of not being used to my full potential. No one at the Acme wants to take the time to teach me anything. They won't let me do more in the bakery because I don't have the experience. They mentioned teaching me how to put up the sale tags, but it never panned out. How will I have the experience if I never learn? How can I know if no one is willing to teach me? How can anyone escape if they never learn anything?

I still want to be a librarian and a writer, preferably of fantasy or mysteries or children's books...or heck, all three. I agree with Scott. I need to do more research. I want to find out just how much it would cost to attend Temple and Drexel's prestigious library science schools. I want to find out where the market for librarians is, and what's changing. I want to find out more about the market for writers, too...and maybe finally sit myself down and do some real writing, not just a story a month with my best friend.

I had a quick (and expensive) Turkey Club Wrap at Saladworks after counseling. It had started to rain lightly again as I left Collingswood. It picked up on my way across Newton River Park...so heavily that I briefly stopped under a tree in the park and in CVS to avoid getting soaked. It let up long enough after I poked my head out of CVS for me to get home and continued raining on and off for the rest of the day.

Needless to say, I didn't go anywhere else. I spent the rest of the day cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen, baking bread, and watching Stardust. I wanted to do something with buttermilk, so I made a fairly simple Buttermilk Rye-Whole Wheat Bread. It took a long time rising, but smelled wonderfully nutty and earthy in the oven, and tasted divine.

Stardust is a hilarious but rather odd fantasy story, apparently based after a popular novel. A young Englishman journeys over a wall to a magical world to find a fallen star for his fickle sweetheart. What he discovers is that the "star" is a very pretty and very feisty young woman wearing a huge gem necklace. The star is pursued by a group of witches who want her heart to restore their youth and powers. The necklace is being pursued by the princes of the land, who want it to be able to take over their deceased father's throne...and will stop at nothing to get it, including eliminating the other princes.

Make no mistake, this is a light tale, filled with odd characters (from Robert Di Niro's fey sky pirate Captain Shakespeare to the very funny ghosts of the dead princes) and lots of magical doings and sword fights. It reminds me a lot of two similar comic fairy tales of my youth, Willow and The Princess Bride. If you loved either of those films and can run with the crazy plot and the wonderfully dry humor, you'll have as much fun with this as I did.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Thundering Balance

Did yoga class this morning. It was a fairly full one, 13 people counting the teacher Jill. Jill's very fond of doing head and shoulder stands. Needless to say, I am not. I did the prepping as well as I could, but I'm still not strong enough to get on my head. Jill was very encouraging, but sometimes I see other people in the class doing it with ease and wonder when it'll be my turn.

I made quick stops at the Collingswood Variety Store to see if they had the new WebKinz Guinea Pig yet (nope), then went across the street to the thrift shop to say "hi" to Erica. The shop was pretty busy for a Wednesday morning when I was there. I bought two American Girls books I didn't have, Meet Felicity and Meet Josefina. (The latter, incidentally, is my first Josefina book.)

I spent the rest of the morning working on editing this month's Monkees Role Play and goofing around online. It was sunny and humid when I went to Collingswood, but by the time I headed to work, the clouds were starting to gather. About half-way through my shift, they went into full storm mode, including a repeat of yesterday's ten-minute-shower-and-noise. It was still cloudy and windy when I left, but it looked like it hadn't rained for a while, and it was much cooler. Work was steady-to-dead, no major problems.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sunshine On a Rainy Day

I slept in and spent the morning doing my laundry and reading. It was really rather quiet. Dad had gone to Cape May with his old friends. Jessa was visiting friends of her own. Uncle Ken and Dolores were around for a while, but they eventually went out to run errands.

It was such a lovely day, breezy and bright and warm, that I went for a walk while the clothes were in the dryer. It was just a quick one up to the Oaklyn Library and around the neighborhood. It felt so nice and summery, a little humid but not too bad.

After I got in from doing the laundry, I put my clothes away, changed into sneakers, grabbed my purse, and headed out for my other errand of the day. It was fairly late - around 2:30 - by the time I finally made it to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteering session. I did exactly what I did last week - shelved stacks and stacks of DVDs. Walked out with two interesting DVDs I wanted to see (the fantasy film Stardust and the classic crime caper The Asphalt Jungle), a cookbook on cupcakes, and the novelization of the first X-Men movie.

As I was poking around the science fiction/fantasy section around quarter of 4, I heard an ominous rumble. Turning to look out the fire escape door, I saw dark clouds rushing over the Library and the mall across the street. It rained pretty good...but not for very long. I finally made it out around 4:30. The streets were still wet, but the sun was peeking out of the heavy clouds. Unfortunately, it was also hotter and more humid than it had been earlier.

I made quick stops at Super Fresh (checking tea prices) and Dollar Tree (needed sponges), then just rode home across the park. I spent what remained of the day at home, watching black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons and eating leftovers for dinner.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday, Monday

Actually, there wasn't much to my Monday. I slept in, had cereal, bananas, and strawberries for breakfast, watched cartoons, and got the rent together for Miss Ellie. At least it's right on time this month.

I've been having trouble on and off with my Internet. The signal keeps dropping for anywhere from a minute to a half-hour. I don't know why. I've changed the filter, turned the modem on and off, taken the splitter out. Nothing works. I called Verizon High Speed Internet this morning. The Asian Indian man at the desk checked my signal. He wasn't able to get back to me until after work, but he said something to the effect that it might be a faulty land-line. Supposedly, someone will be coming around between 8 and 1 on Friday.

I'm not holding my breath.

Work, on the other hand, was no problem at all. It was steady-to-dead, with so much help, I spent at least two hours all together doing returns. No customer problems, either. Maybe everyone was out enjoying the gorgeous sunny, breezy, 70-degree day.

I had leftover chicken and tomatoes for dinner and boiled beets in a pan to make pickled beets. I'll finish them tomorrow.