Friday, July 31, 2009

Birthday Boy

Oh, and a very happy 5th birthday to my little nephew Skylar, who is definitely more than meets the eye! ;)

Began today with more cleaning. I washed the windows, vacuumed, and cleaned out the air conditioner. (Mom suggested my allergies may be at least partially caused by mold being spread by the air conditioner, which is in the window year-round. Besides, I hadn't cleaned the filter in a while, and though it wasn't that hot today, it was humid enough to still need it on.)

Work was fine for the first half of my shift. The weather was merely cloudy and humid when I rode to work, but by around 4:30, dark clouds had begun to gather. I didn't really see too much on the front end, but I heard thunder and lightning, and I did see torrential rain - crazy, heavy, cats-and-dogs rain - out the front windows and front lobby windows. The rain was so heavy, water actually seeped up through the tiles in aisles 1, 2, 3, and the front exit! All had to be blocked off in order to clean the puddles, which didn't make for happy customers.

(The lights did blink once, but thank goodness we only lost the computer for a few seconds. It could have been a lot worse. There was a leak in the ceiling in the hall between the back storage area and the back lounge room. I had to walk the bike very carefully around that! There was a huge puddle in the storage area, too.)

I went out to Fat Jack's Barbecue in the Audubon Commons Mall to celebrate the end of my long work week. (Tomorrow will be my first day off since last Wednesday!) They're in the midst of reconfiguring their menu, probably trying to add more for dieters. I decided to try one of those "light side" items, a Fat Pocket Sandwich...i.e, shredded barbecue chicken and vegetables in a pita with your choice of dressing. Alas, the filling didn't stay in the pita nearly as well as it did in a large sandwich bun. After a couple of minutes, I finally dumped the rest of the filling in my wax-paper-covered basket, topped it with the honey dijon dressing that came on the side, and called it a Pulled Chicken Salad. (The rest of the dressing was used as dipping sauce for the pita.)

There were still some puddles left when I went back to the Acme to do this week's grocery shopping. It was worth dodging the mess. There's a lot of great sales this week. I picked up a big box of Acme Toasted Oats (our generic Cheerios) for $.99, two packs of flat, soft rubber hair bands for $1.29 each, a can of tuna for $.88, Acme and Dannon Light Yogurt for $.50 each, and Acme whipped topping for $1.00. The whipped topping is for a pudding pie I'm making for my cousin's birthday party tomorrow.

A woman and her two daughters mentioned traffic on the Black Horse Pike was really bad when I was at Fat Jack's, but I didn't believe them until I headed home...and saw it for myself. The line of cars headed for the shore stretched to the Collingswood exit, probably not helped by the bad weather and all the mess it likely caused. I was sooo happy the side of the road I was on, the one going towards Philadelphia and Camden, was a little busy but nothing nearly as bad as that.

(Other than a downed tree limb next to the house that I dragged to the backyard, everything seems to be fine at my apartment as well. It doesn't look like we lost electricity or anything like that.)

And after all the fussing over my schedule last week, I barely got any hours this week, just 19 and nothing later than 7. That's fine. In fact, that's kind of what I was expecting last week. I know we don't get good hours in the mid and late summer. Getting all those hours at once is great but really overwhelming (and it didn't help that I got it last Friday, which was mostly just bad to begin with).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Clean It!

Yes, I got the kitchen cleaned today. Like the bathroom, it really needed to be done. The top of the stove was really grimy. I listened to the Monkees records I bought last week as I scrubbed.

The Monkees Present is the best of the three records produced after Peter Tork left the group, with great songs from Micky (the album version of "Mommy and Daddy," "Little Girl") and Mike ("Listen to the Band," "Oklahoma Backroom Dancer"). Davy's best showing was the fun "Looking For the Good Times."

Pool It! takes us from psychedelic '69 to big-hair '86...and unlike previous Monkees efforts, it sounds it. There's no denying when this album came out, from the goofy water-themed cover to the heavy use of synthesizers on songs like "Heart and Soul," "Secret Heart," and "I'll Love You Forever." Also unlike previous Monkees efforts, despite some not-bad material ("Heart and Soul" was a minor hit in '86), it hasn't worn well.

Work was steady-to-dead, no major problems besides a few obnoxious customers. It'll likely pick up over the weekend, when we get into the beginning of the month.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy to Balance

Started a busy day with yoga class. I wanted to get to the Wednesday morning class this week because the teacher, Jill, will be going on maternity leave starting tomorrow. I really like her. She's such a sweet woman, and a wonderful and enthusiastic teacher. Class was surprisingly small for what was Jill's last class. I thought everyone would come out, but there was only nine people, counting Jill.

Maybe the weather kept them away. It wasn't really hot, but it remained sticky-humid, windy, and cloudy. After class, I headed for Collingswood's post office, several blocks down from Yogawood, and sent my nephew Skylar's birthday package. I then rode over to the library to return the three DVDs and a book that was due. I had enough time to shelve some DVDs, but I'm really trying to hold off on taking anything else out until after vacation, especially since I still have two books out that I'm reading.

Made quick stops at Super Fresh (looked for batteries), WaWa (milk), and Doria's Deli (turkey and a Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi), before heading home. I'd done everything so quickly, I had plenty of time for a Turkey and Summer Veggie Sandwich lunch and to work on adding music to my MP3 player. I still had some music on there left from last September and from my trip to visit Amanda at Christmas. I pulled all of the Christmas stuff and a few other things and added the Beatles, the Who, the soundtrack from the original 1957 Rogers and Hammerstein Cinderella, and the Charlie's Angels soundtrack.

(I shouldn't really need music on this trip as much as I have during previous vacations. The train trip only takes about three to three and a half hours all together, a far cry from the 6-8 hour bus marathons.)

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday, stead-to-dead with no really major problems besides some chop-shop people. The problems were outside the store. First of all, they were working on redoing the concrete around the main entrance for some strange reason (the concrete looked fine to me yesterday), which meant everyone had to use the back entrance near Rite Aid. Second, it poured on and off for most of the time I was in work. (A bagger walked in soaked; she got caught retrieving carts in a downpour, poor kid.)

Thankfully, it looked like it was starting to break up by the time I went home at 8. The wind was gone and it was cooler, but it's remained humid. (The air conditioner is still on.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Short But Sweet

I'm proud of me. I got a lot done in a very short amount of time today. Started the day after breakfast with a quick run to Dad and Uncle Ken's. Today is Dad's birthday (I think he's 65). Dad wasn't there, so I just left his Peaches and Cream Pudding Pie and card on the breakfast island and headed back out.

Did the bathroom in record time when I got in. It normally takes me at least 45 minutes to an hour to clean the bathroom, but I whittled it down to 30 today. I couldn't put it off. It was disgusting, especially the sink. The only thing I didn't get to was the window and the mirror over the sink, but I'll do those on Friday.

Work was dead as a doornail for most of the day. Between the 90 degree heat and heavy humidity and this being prime vacation time, who wants to run to the store? It did pick up a bit during the usual 4-6 rush hour. I had one obnoxious older woman who read the Boost sale wrong (even though the packages were clearly labeled with the right sales on the shelf), but otherwise no problems.

When I got home, I wrapped my little nephew Skylar's birthday Transformer and got his package ready to send to North Wildwood tomorrow. His birthday is Friday. Mom said they'll be having cake and ice cream then; I'd like for it to arrive by Friday.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Do Not Forsake Me, O' My Darlin'..."

I started today with a quick run to the bank. It was hot, cloudy, and humid, which may have contributed to the emptiness of the bank. I was in and out quickly. (Lauren later told me her bank was busy. I guess people came during their lunch hour.)

Work was steady-to-dead, with no major problems...with today's customers, that is. One of the managers pulled me out of the register around 1:30 and told me a customer had called and complained about me. Said I'd been fussing about my long schedule this week and my troubles with work. I had discussed it with some regular customers on Saturday, but I thought they'd been understanding. I guess not. I didn't get in trouble beyond a friendly warning, but I'm not thrilled, either. Even the manager thought it seemed rather bizarre, especially since she said the woman was calling about Saturday.

Picked up sugar and some items to make a pudding pie for Dad's birthday tomorrow after work, then headed home. I watched High Noon while making the pudding pie and eating leftover poached chicken legs, romaine and summer vegetable salad, and cherries for dinner.

High Noon is an unusually tension-filled western of a sheriff who finds himself abandoned by the town he once protected when an old enemy returns to settle a score. The Quaker girl he's just married wonders if she ought to leave town, too...or join him by his side. Great cast - Gary Cooper won an Oscar as the sheriff, and Grace Kelly made her film debut as his Quaker bride - tackle a moral dilemma in "real time" (one of the few films to attempt this gimmick...and use it well). (The theme song that runs through the film, "The Ballad of High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)", won an Oscar as well.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Into the Pool

Started this morning with Peach Spice Pancakes (made with one of the last of the farm market peaches) and a call to Mom. Mom was fine. She was about to water the flowers in the boxes on her patio and await the arrival of my sister Anny and her two sons.

Mom did start her part-time cashier job at Micheal's last week...and she hates it as much as I do. Like me, she'd rather actually do something with her time besides standing around behind a register. I'm really glad she did get this job, even if she doesn't last there. There's finally someone in the family who understands why my current job is driving me nuts.

Speaking of my current job, that was comparatively quiet for a Sunday. It was steady, but not as bad as it could have been. My relief was on time, and I was in and out.

I went home, changed into my bathing suit, grabbed my laundry, and went right back out again for this week's laundry session. It took longer than I thought it would. Someone already had laundry in the dryer when I was there. I wasn't done until about 8:30.

At least I had a pretty good time. There were quite a few people at Dad's and Uncle Ken's tonight, in addition to Dad, Uncle Ken, Jodie, and Dolores - Vanessa and a cousin of hers, Keisha, Uncle Ken's granddaughter Paige, her boyfriend, and their two-year-old daughter Ella, Dolores' children and their son Blake. We had pepperoni and sausage pizza and cheesesteaks and swam in the pool. (Ella barely wanted to leave the pool, despite her blue and chattering lips. The pool was in the lower 80s this evening - not bad, but maybe a little chilly for a toddler.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

You Can Do Magic

Started today at work, which went far better than yesterday. Today was my early work day, 9:30 to 3:30. It was relatively cool when I headed over, but sunny and bright. Work was on-and-off busy, and unlike yesterday, there were no major problems. My relief was on-time.

I headed over to Wal-Mart after work (with a brief stop at FYE) to buy a present for my nephew Skylar's birthday this coming Friday. Mom said he loved the Transformers I bought him for Christmas, so I picked up another one. I also bought a card for my father Bruce's birthday on Tuesday and thank-you cards for Lauren and her parents for having me over next month.

By the time I got out of the Acme, the coolness of the morning had become a blazing hot afternoon. It was really too hot to do much of anything else. After I finished in Wal-Mart, I rode home, cranked the air-conditioning, and watched The Prestige. I loved that. It's a twisty mystery about two rival magicians in the late 19th century, one a charismatic showman (Hugh Jackman), the other a dedicated and gifted illusionist (Christian Bale), whose attempts to outdo each other with feats of magic eventually turn into revenge...and then into tragedy. Unlike the more melodramatic tale of magic that came out around the same time, The Illusionist, this one keeps you guessing right until the very end, thanks to excellent writing, some amazing camera work and editing, Christopher Nolan's taut direction, and the fabulous performances by Jackman, Bale, Scarlett Johanssen (as Jackman's assistant) and Michael Caine (as a master craftsman who creates many of Jackman's illusions).

Friday, July 24, 2009

They Can Drive A Person Crazy

I'm going insane. And I'm going to apologize straight off for the tone of this post.

This has been such a lousy day. First of all, I got called in this morning...which wouldn't have been so bad, but I wanted to make it to Yogawood. Needless to say, I never did, which means I didn't get my yoga class in this week, for the first time since Christmas week.

Getting my bike fixed didn't go so well, either. I ran it over to Dad's. He was cleaning the pool when I came over and said he had a thousand things to do. He did change the tire on the bike...but when I tried to take it to work, the chain slipped off. Three times. Each time, I got more and more upset. I was able to do it myself the first time. A police officer and a construction worker who were fixing the gas and water pipes on Kendall Boulevard helped me the second time. A Kendall resident helped out the third time. I cried and carried on and behaved like a spoiled child. I'm so embarrassed. And what's worse, I was late to work.

Work was busy all day. I did get out of the register for about 20 minutes mid-way through the day, though. Two new cashiers were training up front, and I got to help one of them. (She did very well, too, only forgetting a few produce codes.)

Towards the end of the day, I got a large family who was buying a huge order. (From all the cleaning supplies and brooms, I wonder if they had just returned from a long vacation or moved into a new house?) They twice tried to pay by check, but the company that handles our check cashing system rejected both checks. They'd already taken their order outside by then...but they hadn't paid for it. The managers had to chase after them. I had a very long line and I felt horrible, even though the checks not going through wasn't my fault. I felt bad about letting them go, and I hate holding up the line. I hate it, even when people say they don't have a problem with waiting. I finally got one of the managers to cancel their order. (One of the managers told me later that they did finally pay by credit card.)

At least I got a free dinner. The head front end manager bought the two new recruits (who did pass their cashier test) and another manager pizza from a restaurant a few blocks down on the Black Horse Pike. They were nice enough to let me have a few slices while I was on my break...which meant I didn't have to run to Tu Se Bella's and buy my own slices after work. ;)

Speaking of "after work," I found a lot of great sales today (making up for not being able to go to the farm market this week). Dannon Light Yogurt cups were 50 cents each. I picked up a box of Whole Fruit Frozen Fruit Bars for $1.50 with the sale and a coupon. Cherries were a $1.29 a pound, plums 99 cents a pound. (Only this weekend, though.) Smart Balance Butter Blend was $2.50.

It had been sunny, hot, and humid since this morning, but clouds were gathering as I left work. I was passing by some neighbors who are friends of Dad and Uncle Ken's when my chain came off...again. The dad and two older sons were nice enough to help fix the chain and tighten the wheel. I was able to chat with the mother and her adorable baby girl (named Emma Rosemary), who was having her own problems. She'd just started a second job she hates - it doesn't leave her enough time for her Emma.

And my schedule next week is frustrating. While it's nice to have 31 hours, every day but Wednesday is 12 to 4, 5, or 6PM. Wednesday is 3 to 8. I only needed to skim the schedule to know what was going on. Half the store decided that they wanted to take their vacations this week. Why can't they be more organized about vacations? This happens every April, too. Everyone always wants to go away at the same time, which doesn't leave much help at home. We should do it like Lauren's bank does and everyone signs up for certain weeks, so they know in advance who can go when.

I'm just so frustrated. So few people understand. I tell them I hate the Acme job, and they say "Why? It's a JOB." But...I hate it. It's driving me crazy and making me miserable. I want a good, solid job where I actually feel like I'm making a difference. I want a regular schedule, not 23 hours this week...maybe, if they don't need me...and 31 hours next week. I want to be able to plan things like laundry, library volunteering, and yoga classes for certain days, instead of praying I might have the time for them, or tentatively posting these things and then having to tell people I can't make it because oops, the Acme called in and needs me.

I'm never going to get out. No one wants to hire a baby who always gets upset over everything. I have a headache and my stomach is in knots. I wish I knew what to do now. I need to find an interim job while I figure out how I'm going to afford college, but who's going to hire me for $11.80 an hour? Doesn't anyone in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area need a writer, an editor, or even someone to organize their DVD and book collection? Isn't anything ever going to go right?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bike Trouble Again

Not a whole lot going on today. It was cloudy, hot, and humid, and not surprisingly, I spent most of the morning working on the computer. I looked up the departure gates for my trains going out of 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and Penn Station in New York. (I didn't know the 30th Street Station was this huge, gorgeous old building. It's from 1929, according to Wikipedia, and really cool. Now that's traveling in style.)

There wasn't really anyone around to change my tires, and I still don't have the right tools. I took the mountain bike to work...which would have been great, if the seat was on right. My neighbor switched the good seat on the mountain bike to the cruiser and put the broken seat from the cruiser on the mountain bike, and it just wasn't tight enough. I had to hold on tight to stay upright on the bike, but I did make it to and from work without incident.

Work was steady, with no major problems. I had no relief and left on time. It rained while I was in work, but was just wet by the time I finished.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good Clean Fun

I opened my eyes. The clock read 7:30. I closed them for what I thought was five minutes or so. When I opened them again, the clock said 11.

Not a good way to start the day.

I was even less thrilled when I was half-way to Collingswood to deliver some donations to the thrift shop and I discovered the back tire, which I pumped last night, had deflated again. Looks like I was right about that slow leak. I ended up walking it around Collingswood and Westmont for most of the day.

The thrift shop went better. Erica called me last night and said she'd received a big box of records as part of a donation, including Monkees records. She'd mentioned the record Davy, Peter, and Micky made when they were on tour together in the mid-80s, Pool It! The record was still there when I arrived...and it held an even more interesting surprise. The Pool It! cover contained not only the record that went with it, but the mid-80s Rhino copy of a later Monkees album, The Monkees Present. Monkees Present was the second album released after Peter Tork left the group, and it features my very favorite of the songs Mike Nesmith wrote for the Monkees, "Listen to the Band."

(I also picked up the Rhino version of the first, self-titled Monkees album, along with Jack Jones and Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians.)

I hiked over to the library after leaving the thrift shop, with short stops at the Collingswood Library and the 7-11 next to the Westmont Acme, picking up a bottle of water and a big soft pretzel for lunch from the latter. It was hot, humid, and sunny by the time I was out and about, and I was sweating like crazy.

The Haddon Township Library was hopping when I finally made it there. One of the librarians said she'd organized the children's DVDs yesterday and discovered this morning that they were messy again. I reorganized them again, then shelved the adult DVDs as well as I could. Lots of people wanted DVDs today, and I couldn't always answer their requests for specific titles. Not to mention, a mother and her son were looking for DVDs, and the little boy, who couldn't have been more than 7 or 8, kept dragging over titles like Rocky Balboa or I Am Legend that were way over his head.

I took three DVDs I'd been wanting to see (the original 50s version of Cheaper By the Dozen with Myrna Loy and Clifton Webb, the original High Noon with Gary Cooper, and the magic-themed The Prestige with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) before heading back into the hot sunshine. It was about 4:30 by this point. I made a very quick stop at Super Fresh to see if they had any low-fat peanut butter on sale (nope) before just walking home. I was hoping my neighbor would be out to fix my tire, but I didn't see him. Maybe he'll be there tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dark and Dreary Day

I awoke to a downpour. I'd just finished breakfast, hoping that the rain would stop, or at least let up, and let me get to the library, when the phone ring. Yes, it was the Acme. Could I come in at noon and work until 6? One of the teenage boys called out. (It was the one with the second job who is always late - he may have opted for one job over the other.)

Between the lousy weather and my low hours this week, I ended up taking the shift. It wasn't much different than yesterday - steady-to-busy, with a few annoying customers, but otherwise no problems. I had a quick Roast Beef "Burger" dinner at Arby's afterwards. I don't usually eat fast food, but I didn't feel like cooking, and it was the cheapest thing I could come up with besides pizza (which I also wasn't in the mood for).

It was spitting a little when I rode to work. By the time I got out, it was cloudy and humid, but about 75 degrees and dry. Unfortunately, I discovered on the way home my back tire was going flat. I got to Kendall this time before I walked. I think I really do have a slow leak. I pumped it for now - I'll have my neighbor take a look at it the next time he's around.

Monday, July 20, 2009

To the Moon and Work

Spent a very quiet, relaxing morning doing the laundry. I read X-Men: The Legacy Virus on the porch while Dad watched TCM's movie marathon celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing. Uncle Ken was at the doctor with Dolores; they came in later. It was a bit more humid and cloudy than it has been, but still not that warm.

I had enough time to have a tasty Turkey Sandwich with Summer Vegetables lunch before I headed for work. Work was just steady when I came in, but it picked up by the time I headed home. There were a few obnoxious customers, otherwise no problems. My relief was on time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blueberry Sunday

I slept in on a pleasant, sunny, 85-degree morning. After I finally dragged my rear out of bed, I had blueberry pancakes for breakfast while listening to WOGL's Brunch With the Beatles show. ("The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl - 1964 & 1965" was the theme today.) Tried calling Mom, but she was busy, so I let her go.

Work was very busy, but nothing abnormal for a Sunday. The woman I came in for said the computer system was still down earlier in the morning, but had come back up by the time I arrived at noon. I didn't get my break until almost an hour before it was time to go. Another woman had been scheduled at the same time as me, and she always takes ridiculously long breaks. My relief was slightly late, too, but a manager came in for me. He had arrived by the time I was buying contact solution.

The rest of the day was spent quietly doing chores around the house. I swept the leaves and nuts off the porch, then sprayed for ants. I've been seeing them around the apartment again; the bathroom's been especially bad.

And I did finally get to talk with Mom. Anny and her boys had come for a visit that morning, which is what she was doing when I originally called. She started working this week...and discovered she doesn't like cashiering any more than I do. Like me, she'd rather be actually doing something than stuck behind a register. Now she knows why I hate MY job.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In the Summertime

After two days of heat and humidity, I was so happy to stick my head out the door this morning and feel a cool wind. It got up to about 85 degrees today, but the stifling sticky feeling had vanished along with the storms. I managed to get out of the house fairly early for my farm market run.

It was a fantastic morning for a ride. After a quick stop at the bank, I headed for the farm market. It was pushed to the side of the parking lot again, but just as noisy as usual. Cherries and carrots were gone, but I did eventually pick up zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, a cucumber, a green pepper, mushrooms, peaches, blueberries, bananas, a small jar of honey peach butter for Lauren's parents when I go on vacation, and sugar plums to replace the cherries.

I rode around for a little while after that, checking out yard sales. Perhaps because of the gorgeous weather, there were tons of them today. Alas, I found nothing of interest besides a lovely ride and eventually headed home. Spent the rest of the early afternoon working on editing and posting the role-play (as mentioned before) and having lunch (Garden State Turkey-Bean Soup and farm market vegetable salad) before heading for work.

I left early enough to take a peek at the Rite Aid that's closing next-door to us. It was about half-empty. The shelves in front were still filled with food, cosmetics, electronics, magazines, stationary, and seasonal items...but the ones in back near the pharmacy were totally wiped out. I saw why when I tried to make my way around the store. There were very, very long lines, going half-way across the front of the store, and only two cashiers to handle them. I was looking for contact solution, but needless to say, I left without buying anything.

Work was just as much of a pain in the rear. First of all, it was busy for most of the day. Second, the computer system that handles our debit, credit, and food stamp cards and our checks was offline all day. This had little effect on the checks or food stamp cards, and only caused slight problems for credit cards. Debit cards, however, were nothing but trouble. You'd have to sign them, and if anyone tried to buy over about $150 worth of food on them, the card wouldn't allow it and they'd have to run the card through twice or however many times until the order was paid for.

Add some annoying customers to the mix, too. My very first customer of the day was the obnoxious old man with the patch who thinks he owns the universe. He refuses to write a check and makes the cashiers do it, even though I think he's perfectly capable. I've seen him do other things. I think he's just lazy. Later in the day, I had an elderly woman who wanted one item in each bag. This wouldn't have been such a problem, if she hadn't had a very full cart...and if she hadn't kept treating me like I was five years old. I know exactly what I'm doing, and I did hear her when she said one item per bag. I hate it when people are condescending to me.

Thankfully, it was quiet enough after work for me to do my grocery shopping in peace. I took advantage of several excellent sales, including $1.00 for an 18-count container of eggs, $.40 each for Dannon Light Yogurt, half-off all chicken breasts, and two Fiber One Granola Bar boxes for $6...even less, with the $1.10 coupon I got last week from a sample table.
Monkee's Story Now Posted

Ok, just posted this month's Monkees role-play, "The Bake-Off." It's a light, goofy comedy - Mike, Micky, and Lauren cheer Emma on when she enters the title competition. Actually, we finished this story over three weeks ago, but it's been too nice to sit inside and edit it!

Anyway, enjoy!

Monkees Dream World: "The Bake-Off"
Storms Passing

Geez, you go on to look at Wolverine fan art for five minutes...and it turns into two hours. Anyway, I didn't do a whole lot today. I spent a hot, humid morning working on editing this month's Monkees role-play. (Look for it by Monday at the latest.) I wanted to go online, but the internet went down. It was down for about five minutes. It hasn't done that in a while; I wonder if the weather's a factor this time?

It was sprinkling but not raining hard when I headed for work, dodging the continuing work on the water and gas pipes on Kendall Boulevard. Work was busy for most of the night, right up to the last half-hour I was there, and there were no problems. A thunderstorm apparently passed while I was inside, but by the time I got out, the storm was gone, and it was just wet and humid again.

On my way home, I stopped on a driveway on Kendall Boulevard to rub my left eye. My eyes have been itchy for a while now, probably because of my allergies. While rubbing, I accidentally pulled the new contact out of my eye! Thank goodness I was able to find it and get it home in the folded paycheck stub in my pocket, but it did mean I rode part-blind half-way home.

Oh, and Bob at Abbie Road mentioned that the Rite Aid next-door to the Acme is shutting down. I hadn't even realized it until I saw a large yellow "going out of business" sign as I passed there this evening. I'm not sure what a drug store is doing next to a large grocery store, anyway. On one hand, the CVS next-door to the Acme in Wildwood always seemed to do fine, but I don't think the Wildwood Acme has a pharmacy. On the other hand, the Eckard's next-door to the North Cape May Acme shut down within years of it's opening and was replaced with a local liquor store. There was an Eckard's (now likely a Rite Aid) next to Shop Rite that always seemed to do fine, too. (And that gigantic Shop Rite probably DOES have a pharmacy.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I slept in again this morning and was reading X-Men: The Return in bed when I got a call from America's Best. My contacts were in. I got dressed and rode over to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center after breakfast. Getting down Kendall Boulevard was a pain. They're apparently working on gas and water lines, and half the road was torn to shreds. They were working on repaving when I was down there, but even though I was able to ride on the sidewalk, I had to dodge equipment and avoid where they were working when I crossed streets. It was a royal pain.

I did finally make it to America's Best and picked up my contacts. I browsed in FYE, Fashion Bug, and Avenue after that, but I didn't buy anything. Trying to avoid the mess on Kendall, I went past Wal-Mart and onto Nicholson, then rode to Market Street.

It was still sunny today, but the weather had gone from perfect to hot and humid. I needed a drink badly. I stopped at the Tree House Cafe for a very, very green Creme De Menthe-flavored Italian Soda. It was around quarter of 1 by then, and the place was hopping. The Tree House Cafe is also a place where mothers and their children can meet and network, and they were certainly doing that this afternoon. Children ran to their mothers, laughing and begging for treats. They listened to a woman play guitar on the small stage, then went onstage themselves to try their hand at it.

I went across the street to the Abbie Road used CD store after I finished my soda. I caught up with my old friend Bob and checked out his selection. I ended up with Count Basie, the soundtrack for the first Charlie's Angels movie (which I saw in college and liked), the first Christmas With the Chipmunks album, and a CD replacement for my old John Denver and the Muppets: Christmas Together cassette. Bob seemed to be decent, other than he was sweating to death (he closed his door after I came in). He'd just transferred to a smaller Acme in Maple Shade, where he works night crew to make a few extra dollars.

Rode into Oaklyn over the railroad bridge after I left Abbie Road. I made a quick stop at the Oaklyn Library to see if they had something (they didn't and were closing soon anyway), so I rode home. I had a fast lunch of Garden State Turkey Bean Soup, then changed into a bathing suit and walked over to Dad and Uncle Ken's for a swim.

I'm so glad I did. I haven't done nearly enough swimming this summer. The water was warm but not hot at about a little over 80 degrees. I had the pool to myself. Dolores was on the porch, talking on the phone when I came in. Dad was taking a shower. Jessa was at work. Rose came around briefly, looking for her cell phone. Apparently, she'd been around last night and now couldn't find it. She probably lost it somewhere in her apartment. She always was something of a slob.

I was in the pool for about an hour. I read X-Men: The Return for another hour after that, lounging in the shade by the small plastic table next to the pool's steps. Said 'hi' to Uncle Ken, Guy, and Dolores on the porch, then went inside to see Daddy. I was startled to see my late stepmother Kaye on the screen, and a very young Jessa who couldn't have been more than six or seven. They were with some other unfamiliar people and young children in their old house in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. (Dad was apparently trying to hide in the background.) Dad said it was a party they had for New Year's Eve 1997, and indeed, the person in the background kept turning the camera to a small digital clock that read the time. (Poor little Jessa barely made it. She couldn't even muster the energy to get up and blow her party horn when the ball dropped in Times Square.) Dad said that was Kaye's last New Year's. She died in December 1998 of cancer.

Spent the rest of the evening at home, making steak, mashed sweet potatoes, salad, and eggplant Parmesan for dinner. Somewhere around 7, I heard a rumble of thunder. It had been on-and-off cloudy all day, but the clouds had increased considerably since I got in. The first raindrops were just beginning fall as I darted out to my porch, grabbed my still-damp beach towel, and ducked back in to eat dinner and watch more Wonder Woman.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Budgeting Balance

I did yoga class today. For the second week in a row, Rose was supposed to join me and never showed. Just as well. It was a full class today, 18 people including the teacher Jill. We did a lot of work on "core" movements - stretching, stomach crunches, moves that open the hips, joints, back, and stomach. It was mostly a bit easier than some previous weeks have been, but I'm still can't quite hold some poses as long as most people can.

Went straight home after that via Newton River Park. It was an utterly stunning day, 80 degrees, sunny, with no wind at all. There were quite a few people out and about this morning as well. I passed a whole family riding bikes, joggers, dog walkers, and teenagers wandering around.

Spent the rest of the morning working on things on the computer, including this month's budget. Mom wanted me to e-mail her my resume, so she could give me some pointers, but I couldn't find the disk it was on. I still have actual copies I made to give out to job interviews that never materialized. I might just type it from the most recent version of one of those.

Perhaps because of the gorgeous day and this being the middle of the week and the month, work was dead as a doornail tonight. I'm just glad it went much faster than I'd anticipated. I figured it would drag, but I was in and out with no problems.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mid-Summer Madness

Started a gorgeous summer day (80 degrees, sunny and breezy) with a ride to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteer session and to return the DVDs. There were still stacks of DVDs to put away, though not nearly as many as in past weeks. I reorganized the messy children's DVDs and shelved the adult ones. I took out two books, that X-Men: The Legacy Virus novel I never got to finish a few weeks ago and the first book in a mystery series about a trio of formerly-rich Philadelphia Main Line sisters, How to Murder a Millionaire. I've been iffy about trying this series; the lives of the rich (or formerly rich) and obnoxious have never much interested me. We'll see how it goes.

I rode around the Westmont/Audubon area for a little while after that. Stopped at Super Fresh for cooking spray (their sales are better than Acme's), then at the small Thriftway/Rite Aid shopping center on Crystal Lake Road that I always forget is there and bought Sun Silk conditioner from Rite Aid (I'm almost out of conditioner). I just cruised around Westmont for a bit, then headed into Audubon and to Willie the Woodsman and Wife's. I bought myself a Spotted Frog and my best friend Lauren a "thank you" gift for when I see her on vacation next month.

I spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out at my place, watching Wonder Woman episodes and making Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. I had a delicious dinner of Garden State Turkey-Bean Soup (also known as what you do with home-made chicken stock, leftover cooked ground turkey from tacos, canned black beans, and most of the vegetables in your refrigerator) and the last of my Molasses-Whole Wheat-Oat Bread with farm market blueberry butter on my porch. It was so nice out. Breezy, bright, and warm without being too hot or humid. I hope this nice weather lasts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chores and Errands

Woke up late this morning. Ate breakfast and listened to music, then stripped the linens off my bed, replaced them with new ones, dumped the old ones in the laundry basket, and headed over to Uncle Ken's for this week's laundry session. Uncle Ken and Dolores were preparing ham and cheese melts for lunch while chatting with Uncle Ken's son Guy. He normally teaches English at a university in Taiwan, but apparently he's bringing several of his students over here to take in American culture for a week.

Jessa was upstairs. She and I went out to CVS while my laundry was in the dryer. We had a nice chat about our plans for the summer while we were on our walk. Not surprisingly, given this is her last summer before college and she's working anyway, she doesn't intend to do anything really big. I bought allergy and cold medicine, pads, eggs (they're still $1.49 there), cough drops, and things for my vacation. Jessa bought microwaveable soup and Pop Tarts for her lunch.

We stopped at my apartment to drop off the eggs, then went back to Dad and Uncle Ken's. I read X-Men: The Return while waiting for it to be done. The laundry took longer than usual to dry, thanks to the extra bed linens. I barely made it home in time to put everything away, change, grab lunch, and head out.

I needn't have hurried. It was steady when I came in at 4, dead when I left at 9. Other than a few obnoxious customers, there were no major problems.

It was on-and-off cloudy and breezy for most of the day, but a customer mentioned getting stuck in a huge rainstorm on her way home. It must have been either north or south of us. It was still dry when I came out, and the clouds were heavy but not stormy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Get a Job

The morning did not begin well. Though my sniffles had vanished when I awoke this morning, I discovered, to my annoyance, that a certain female time of the month had arrived. Not to mention, I got up a lot later than I thought I would. And when I tried to flip my first blueberry-chocolate chip pancake, it landed on the edge of the pan and got all over the stove.

Mom was doing a lot better than I was when I called her. She was just about to settle in to clean her kitchen floor (which she says is a lot easier than it sounds, it being a brand-new floor). She just got a part-time job at the Micheal's in Rio Grande this week. Not a lot of hours or very high-paying, but it'll get her foot in the door. She hasn't worked in at least five years or more, since my brother was little and she worked at his elementary school, making posters and other art for teachers. She's hoping to eventually train to work on store layouts and displays, not just for Micheal's, but for other small stores as well.

She's not having much luck with Dad or Keefe, though. Her relationship with my stepfather has always been volatile at best. They're both stubborn and bossy, hard-headed and inclined to be violent when provoked. And Dad and Keefe's antagonistic relationship has apparently deteriorated of late as well; Mom's afraid they're going to come to blows, or worse.

I had just enough time after getting off with Mom to grab lunch and head off to work. Good thing, too. Although it wasn't too bad when I came in, by 4 o'clock, the place was hopping. We were in desperate need of help. There were two people leaving at 4, my relief was late, and there was no one we could call from anywhere else. No one had even called out. We just hadn't scheduled enough help. The other girl and I stayed another hour. (Just as well - my original "relief" showed up 20 minutes late.)

Lauren and I were talking about local malls in one of our chats the other night. She has fond memories of Zayre's, a department store chain in her area that apparently died in the 90s, just as Ames and Jamesway did here and elsewhere. Talking about them reminded me of the remnants of the one and only really major mall in the South Jersey area, the Rio Mall. I've written about this unfortunate mall here before, but our chat and talking to Mom this morning brought a lot of memories back again.

When I was a kid, the Rio Mall was the coolest place to shop. Of course, this being Cape May County, it was also the only real place to shop. The next closest malls were the Shore Mall and (after 1989) the Hamilton Mall, and they were 45 minutes away. Everything else were small boutiques and locally owned stores that often had outrageous prices and didn't have what you wanted half the time.

When Petula Clark sang about "Downtown," this was my downtown. There was a Thrift Drug, a record store where Mom bought most of her huge record collection, a movie theater with a great pizza parlor next-door, an arcade, a kids' clothes store (I fondly recall coveting their gorgeous frilly dresses, which you can see in the picture), and a big jewelry store. My sisters and I used to go see Santa here every year; his throne was in the main mall, near the record store and Thrift Drug. We'd go to the Deb Shop next to the K-Mart while Mom checked out when we were old enough to wander on our own.

(For years, the scene in Christmas Story where Ralphie sees Santa in the big department store both mystified and amused me. What was this big department store place? Did department stores get bigger than K-Mart? Why was his throne so elaborate? Our Santa sat on a throne made of red glittery stuff, surrounded by tinsel and fancy decorations, no sarcastic elves or slides. And our Santas were always very polite and nice to us, very warm and sweet. This Santa was a jerk.)

As mentioned previously, the Rio Mall died an ugly death around the late 90s, when most of it's major stores either shut down or moved. Thrift Drug merged with Eckard's and moved to a store next to Shop Rite; it was there as of 2006, now likely a Rite Aid. The JCPenny also moved; it's currently next to PetSmart (formerly Sears Hardware when I was there). (The Peebles is still there, too. It's one of Mom's favorite stores.) The Reynolds moved to a shopping center next to Wendy's on Route 45. Reynolds was going belly-up when I moved; Mom says it's now the largest, nicest, and cleanest Family Dollar in the South Jersey area. Rick's movie theater was downgraded to $2 b-pics and closed when the Bayshore 8 opened in North Cape May. Ironically, a new theater opened in the former Staples/A&P building that shuttered the Bayshore 8 permanently.

(And seriously...who designed that movie theater? Did someone forget to tell them that all the Doo Wop is down the street in Wildwood? It totally does NOT fit in with the K-Mart or any of the mini-malls surrounding them. I'm glad to see K-Mart's still going strong despite competition from a new Wal-Mart, across the street, BTW. Say what you will about their prices; I have a LOT of childhood memories in that store.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Farm Market Day

Sue called me around 8:30AM. Could I come in early, at 11:30? I could come in early, but I pushed it to noon. I really needed to get to the Farm Market and the bank, but that wouldn't take too much time. I'd planned on spending the rest of the morning just hanging out.

It was a gorgeous, sunny, breezy, 80-degree day when I headed out around 9:30 this morning. The bank was my first stop. It was dead, and I was in and out. I saw a yard sale on my way to the Farm Market and bought a teddy bear dressed as a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader to use for decoration around football season and two vintage-style My Little Ponies. They're not actual vintage ponies (the bottom of their hooves say 2007), but they're damn good Hasbro recreations. One is mint-colored, with shamrocks on her side and a white mane and tail. The other is all lavender, with white flowers on her side. I forget their names.

There was something weird about the Farm Market when I arrived. It seemed to be a lot further from the bike rack that usual. It turns out there was construction at the PATCO, and in order to avoid it, the booths were only at the last block and in the parking lot behind the City Hall. Spinach was gone, but I was still able to buy cherries, blueberries, cucumbers, bananas, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, and the first New Jersey eggplants and green peppers of the season. (The peppers and eggplants previously sold at the Farm Market had come from down south, in Georgia or Florida.)

I stopped at one more yard sale after leaving, but they mostly just had baby clothes and toys. Good thing I got an early start. Even stopping at two yard sales, I had an hour to put everything away, have lunch, change, and head to work.

Work was really busy when I first came in. Apparently, there had been call-outs all morning, probably due to the nice weather. As it turned out, Mother Nature had the last laugh. Sometime around the dinner hour, the sky began to cloud over, and it grew more humid and warmer. It was still just cloudy when I finally made it out around 7:30, having picked up an on-sale box of Multi-Grain Cheerios. (For $1.88, how can I resisit?)

It didn't really start storming until just a few minutes ago, including one peal of thunder that was so loud, I screamed bloody murder! The rain's pouring down now. Just as well. Uncovered grass is looking a little dry. We could use the rain...provided it doesn't continue for the rest of the month, like in June.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Running Away With My Nose

Ugh. I'm having yet another allergy attack, the second one in a week! This is such a pain. I usually have them every couple of weeks to every couple of months. I never had problems like this when I lived in Wildwood. I'm wondering if it's the pollution in the air from Camden and Philadelphia? I'll bet a lot of people have allergy problems here who barely sniffle once at the Shore.

I spent the morning sleeping in and updating my general website, The Riverside Rest. Yahoo's free website service, GeoCities, is shutting down on October 26th. I'm going to gradually move most of my old general website, Emma's Home Town, to The Rest. Today, I moved three older essays and added a link to my Facebook page to the "On the Front Porch" index and dropped and added links to the "Walk in the Park" links page. Also did some general tweaking and updating.

Here's the links for both pages:

The Riverside Rest
Emma's Home Town

Good thing work wasn't really busy. I sneezed through most of it. Didn't have many groceries to get, either - yogurt, peanut butter, Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips, a small steak for pan-frying, turkey cutlets that had a $2.00 off coupon on them, and - not surprisingly - tissues. (Scottie's were on sale.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Soup Is Good Food

I slept in this morning. When I poked my head out the door, I realized there was no need for the air conditioner. It was mildly cloudy, breezy, and barely into the upper 70s-lower 80s. I switched it off and enjoyed my breakfast and Wonder Woman in peace.

I headed out to Collingswood around 11AM. Dropped off a small bag of donations for Erica at the thrift shop, then hung around in the Collingswood Library. I read a book on the Marvel Universe there, mostly just so I can keep track of who's who.

Did counseling next. Scott and I discussed my upcoming vacation, but we mostly talked about my recent difficulties controlling myself at work. I've been really hard on myself lately. I know it's embarassing, and I know I look silly when I do it,'s hard to stop doing it. It's what I instantly think - why did I make this mistake? If I were smart, I wouldn't have done it. I'm stupid for having done it. I know those thoughts are unproductive. It's just a matter of telling myself that in the heat of the moment, when an upset child afraid of not doing what's right and normal and what she's supposed to do takes over.

I wanted to do lunch after counseling, but I didn't really feel like pizza or a sandwich. I wanted something different...and I knew exactly what it was. I rode across Collingswood, down Cuthbert Road, past the Haddon Township Library, and over Crystal Lake Road to Pine Street on Audubon to that little Soup restaurant I last ate at in January. They're still there, and as messy and homey-looking as ever, with a few patriotic-related doo-dads replacing winter ones. I had the yummy Italian Wedding Soup, a fat slice of delicious cornbread, and a can of Diet A&W...and it all came to about $5.60. I really need to eat at that place more often.

I browsed in Willie the Woodsman's and Wife and Act Two Collectibles, but I didn't buy anything. Rode into Audubon to see if I could actually find their library. I finally did, after some fruitless riding around...only to discover it was closed from the 4th of July to the 19th! I discovered why when I stopped at Doria's Deli on the way home for a bottle of water and read in a local newspaper that Audubon hadn't allotted a single penny for their tiny library. Not one! And they hadn't told the staff, either. What a bunch of jerks. Do any of the council-people in Audubon actually READ?

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home, reading the Too Nice for Your Own Good book Lauren sent me and watching Wonder Woman. I'm really impressed with these episodes. They dealt with some surprisingly sensitive issues for a 70s sci-fi show, including the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II in "The Man Who Could Move the World" and the exploitation of musicians in "The Pied Piper." "Piper," which on paper sounded like a Bee-Gees era version of the Get Smart episode "The Groovy Guru," came out rather sweet (and with an odd "Pied Piper" in Martin Mull). I made Tacos with ground turkey, Farm Market colby cheese, and whole wheat wraps and steamed carrots for dinner.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wonder-Ful Balance

The morning did not begin pleasantly. I heard the mouse trap go off around 3AM, but I waited until quarter of 8 to take it out. When I leaned over to get the trap, I discovered the mouse was in the trap...but still moving! Ugh! I got it out of the house and into the outdoor trash can as quickly as possible. (Good thing I was taking the trash out and leaving it by the curb tonight anyway.)

Things mostly went uphill from there. Yoga class was full, but not as jammed as the Friday classes have been. (In fact, I intentionally avoided the Friday class this week after barely making it into the last two.) There were 12 people, including the teacher Jill. We worked on the shoulders, opening the hips, and on balance. I'm getting better at balancing, but focusing is just so hard, and I still can't do shoulder stands.

I rode home through Newton River Park, enjoying a gorgeous 85-degree day and the lovely breeze. Spent the rest of the afternoon taking advantage of the relatively (for this time of year) cooler temperatures to bake Peach Spice Muffins, getting rid of a very ripe peach and the last tiny bit of sweet potato left in my fridge.

I also enjoyed The Backyardigans and the first couple of episodes on the Wonder Woman: Season 2 set. "Literary Heroes" was the theme for this Backyardigans set. The titular episode, Robin Hood the Clean, was a bit odd. Mayor Stinkypants (Austin) won't allow the citizens of Filthingham to take a bath or even keep soap around! Tyrone finally goes to Purewood Forest to convince Robin Hood the Clean (Pablo) to come to Filthington to save the villagers from the Mayor's rigged Festival of Dirt. I found the emphasis on cleanliness in this episode to be well-meaning but a bit bizarre. Kids who are more into grossness will probably get a bigger kick out of it.

The rest of the episodes were better. Tyrone and Pablo are "The Two Musketeers"...but who's that masked hippo girl who wants to join them? I loved the emphasis on politeness, the balloon swords, and the lesson that you shouldn't judge a person (or hippo) before you've even met them. "To the Center of the Earth" took Professors Uniqua and Pablo to the title location to find Tyrone's missing lucky penny. The two inventors are eager to use their inventions, but Tyrone proves that sometimes the simplest way of doing something just might be the best way.

My favorite episode on this set by far was the Zorro spoof "The Masked Returner." Uniqua is a librarian in Veijo, California who becomes "The Masked Returner" when a book is overdue. When Don Austin (Austin's third villain in this set) refuses to return a library book that's due, it's The Masked Returner to the rescue...and to teach Don Austin a lesson in renewing library books and the importance of libraries.

The second season of Wonder Woman is a vast improvement over the first. As much as I love mid-20th-century history, moving the show to 1977 allowed for a better range of villains and more interesting characters. The Nazi-of-the-week formula in the first season got old fast. Something else I like is this show's fine line between camp and seriousness. It's neither as over-the-top as the (in)famous 60s Batman series nor as dark or brooding as something like Smallville. In fact, the only real cheesy elements, other than some odd plots, came from the updating - bad 70s fashion, dated computers and other technology, and obvious special effects.

Work was dead as a doornail. It got busy-ish during the usual 4-6 rush hour, but was otherwise quiet...except for my last customers. Some guy obviously didn't know a darn thing about doing WIC checks. He handed me a whole bunch and had relied on some stock guy who didn't know what he was talking about instead of reading the pamphlet and got half the stuff wrong. It took me forever to get rid of that guy.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Taking Care of Business

Today had more ups and downs than a roller coaster! It didn't start well. I was putting my contacts in when I dropped one. I ran my hands over the sink, all around the sink, under the sink. Nothing. It either went down the drain or fell into the basket with all the books, magazines, and random catalogs I read in the bathroom. That was my last pair. I wasn't happy, but it wasn't a total loss. I have my glasses. I just added a trip to America's Best to my morning errands.

My bike tire wasn't all the way flat, only about half-way there. I pulled out my hand-pump and did it well enough to be able to take the cruiser bike on my errands. I still went to Wal-Mart for an inner tube. Even if it was fine, it wouldn't hurt to have it...and it was a slow leak, more the better. (I also picked up a Transformers-themed birthday card for my nephew Skylar, whose big day is July 31st.) The line at Wal-Mart was long, but it moved fast. I made a quick stop at America's Best to order my new contacts (and my last set before I have to get my eyes examined again), then headed home.

The mail box was full when I arrived. Lauren mentioned a couple of days ago that she was posting an order to Did I want anything, too? I opted for Wonder Woman: Season 2 and an X-Men paperback, The Return. There was also a surprise in the second box with The Return, a self-help book called Too Nice For Your Own Good: How to Stop Making 9 Self-Sabotaging Mistakes. When I asked Lauren about it later, she said she bought one for herself and thought it might help me, too.

She might have something there. I'm pretty good about not taking on too much...but I suppress anger or blame myself of express it negatively, and everyone in the universe has scolded me about being hard on myself. I'm afraid of anger. When I think of anger, I think of the physical results - hitting, slapping, pulling hair. My mother and my stepfather beat each other black and blue in the mid and late 80s, in full view of their three young daughters. They never touched us...but there's other kinds of trauma besides being physically hurt yourself. I spent a lot of my childhood swallowing anger at the other children who could seem to do everything perfectly and and made fun of me and the teachers who didn't even try to stop them (or tried and were put down for it). I'm afraid of hurting anyone. I don't know how to be aggressive without being a pain. I have to swallow my anger at my obnoxious customers every day and then I blame myself for their behavior.

And I ran right into one of those problems. Jessa and Taylere weren't at home when I went to fetch them for our trip into Philadelphia. Jessa's car wasn't there. Uncle Ken and Dolores were inside watching TV; Dad was outside mowing the lawn. I'd discovered too late that I didn't have Jessa's phone number on my cell phone. She either forgot or thought I did, though I could have sworn I'd told her we'd leave between one or two, and it was about 1:30 by that point. I left in tears.

After I calmed myself down, I decided to return to my original plan for today, which was going to the library. I'm really glad I did. The DVDs were overflowing to the point where they were two rows deep on the DVD return cart and there were STILL more coming in. I organized them as best I could (took me over an hour), then took out some items of my own - two American Girls summer stories (Addy Saves the Day and Samantha Saves the Day), a stack of Disney Vacation and Uncle Scrooge comic books (I prefer funny animals and/or kids to superheroes), and a book on taking the GRE. I want to see what I'm up against if I do decide to go back to school. They finally had the newest Backyardigans DVD, Robin Hood the Clean, and I snapped up the Irish indie musical Once, which I've wanted to see.

It was almost quarter of 6 by the time I finally got out of the library. It was too late for me to make dinner, and I'd forgotten to get something out of the fridge anyway. Inspired by a book on New Jersey Diners I saw at the library, I headed down the hill to the Crystal Lake Diner. Though the parking lot was full, it actually wasn't that busy inside. A young man who was the host recognized me, and the waiter was very sweet about waiting for me to choose. I finally opted for a chicken cheese steak platter with fries, fried onions, a pickle, and cole slaw. It was delicious...and huge. So big, I ended up taking half of it home.

Jessa called while I was chatting with Lauren. She apologized for the mix-up earlier. We'll try something next week or the week after, when I get my paycheck.

And I just saw a huge gray mouse go flying across my bedroom floor! I have no idea where he went. I set up a trap in the space between my wall, the children's book case, and the American Girl dolls' bed. I hope that's right. I didn't see any mouse holes, but it may be behind the case and the closets next to it.

And I think the trap just went off...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Flat Tire

Everything went fine this morning, of course. I got my laundry done. I got my Fourth of July decorations down. My laundry took a little longer than usual (I did last month's towels today along with all the regular items), and I was a little later than I should have been getting out to work.

Of course, I discover when I finally get downstairs that my back tire is half-way to being flat. Again. After it was just replaced last month. I have no idea how this happened. It was fine last night, when I rode home from work. I didn't use it at all this morning. I didn't see any rips or tears in the tire, and there didn't seem to be any rocks or nails in there. I was almost late for work. Again.

Thank goodness work was steady-to-dead, with no major problems. I ended up walking home. It was too nice of a day to call Dad, and I felt bad about blowing a tire he just paid to replace last month. I should learn to be smarter and more careful. The inner tube should be fine. This isn't supposed to happen a month after you replace a tire. I'm so, so angry at myself.

A neighbor who's a friend of Dad's and lives around the corner from me saw me walking home. She and her husband offered to fix the bike tomorrow if I can get the inner tube. I can afford it...but I'd really rather walk than beg a ride from Dad. Maybe Jessa.

I'm deeply embarrassed. I can't believe I blew another inner tube. This must make the third time I blew an inner tube this year, maybe the fourth. I'm so careless and thoughtless. Why can't I do anything right?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Recovering from the Holiday

Slept in this morning after spending a lot of it trying to keep my nose from running all over the place. My allergies aren't as bad as Thursday, but they're still annoying. Other than that, I ate Blueberry Pancakes, worked on editing our latest Monkees role play, and listened to the Brunch With the Beatles show on WOGL. (Ringo Starr, whose birthday is Tuesday, was in the spotlight.)

I called Mom a bit later than usual. I hadn't realized until this morning that I left my cell phone in my purse all night and it had died. I let it charge and called her on my home phone instead. Mom was in a good mood. The big seafood party she and Dad had for their neighbors had gone well. The two of them and Keefe seemed to be in the midst of cleaning up after it; Mom was washing dishes when I called her.

Work was steady-to-dead, not nearly as bad as yesterday or as it usually is on a Sunday. There were a few mildly obnoxious customers. I messed up a check, putting it in as exact when the man wanted money back, which was a little embarrassing. My relief was late. Good thing I was just going straight home anyway.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happily Dry Fourth

One more thing I must mention - this is the first Fourth of July in three years I didn't come home wet from the fireworks, and the first Fourth since I've moved here it hasn't rained at all. ;)
"Saturday In the Park, I Think It Was the 4th of July..."

Beep! Beep! Beep

I opened one eye. The bedside clock said "7:00." I closed the eye. I'd just rest for five more minutes...

I open my eye again...and the clock reads "7:38." I had work at 9. Needless to say, I just barely made it. Not the best way to start a holiday.

Work was mostly on-and-off busy. In fact, we really only had long lines because we lacked help all day long. You'd think they'd have enough sense to schedule most of the store for the biggest holiday of the summer. (You can bet no Acme employees in Cape May County made plans for today.) I was lucky I was able to get off when I did. Another person left when I did...and there were no reliefs for either of us and very long lines. It was a really good thing I got the flour I forgot yesterday during my break!

I rushed home to grab my bathing suit and the cake I baked for my cousin Samantha's 4th of July Pool Party. My sister Jessa and her school buddy Rich beat me there. Her huge Buick was already parked in front of Miss Ellie's side of the house when I arrived. It didn't take me long to change, hit the bathroom, grab the cake, my bathing suit and towel, and my purse, and head out. Thankfully, there was no traffic on the Black Horse Pike, and we made it there in a little over 20 minutes (barring getting lost in Sam's every-house-looks-the-same neighborhood).

It was the same party I went to at my grown cousin Samantha's house last year, only this time, I remembered my bathing suit. That might not have been a good idea this time. Unlike last year, today was sunny but a little cool for this time of year, only into the lower 80s with a nice breeze. The pool was chilly, about 79. I've felt worse (I used to swim in sea water in June when it was still in the 60s), and my little cousins Ethan and Matt and the two other boys there probably didn't even notice. Karen fussed - apparently, hers and Jim's pool is not only heated, but there isn't a tree in 10 miles of their backyard. CJ probably wouldn't have noticed a typhoon appearing in the middle of the pool. He loves swimming.

There was lots of food - shredded pork, steamed crabs, and shish-kabobs in addition to the usual barbecued chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers, along with a carrot salad, vegetable crudites, macaroni and potato salads, deviled eggs, and an unusual "red, white, and blue" ambrosia made from blueberries, strawberries, and mini-marshmallows. There were tons of desserts, too - my Berry Banana Snack Cake, a blueberry-blackberry pie, a cookie tray, a tray of mini-cupcakes, and a plate of brownies Matt had apparently made himself. I stuffed myself silly.

Jessa drove me home. Dad and Jodie had driven up in Dad's classic Mustang convertible, which would have been a little crowded for me, and were leaving later. We made a brief stop at Rich's house in nearby Laurel Springs while he changed into dry clothes (he took a clothes-and-all dip in the pool), then headed for the White Horse Pike. Another buddy of Jessa's called while we were passing Audubon. He was already waiting for her at Dad and Uncle Ken's house. I told her we could just go there, instead of stopping at my place. No use in wasting gas, especially if there were already people there. Jessa and her guy friends left for the fireworks and Cooper River Park, and I walked over the tracks to my apartment.

I switched purses, put my wet things out to dry, and headed back to the White Horse Pike. I stopped at PNC Bank to deposit yesterday's paycheck in the ATM machine, then walked down to Newton River Park. It was only about 7:30, way too early for fireworks, so I thought I'd go the long way around the park to the stump I sat on last year, starting out on Beechwood Avenue and going around to the area across from the Heights condos.

It took longer than I thought it would. The area around the Collingswood High School, where the fireworks are set off, were taped off. I had to walk around several blocks and past the high school. There were already people pouring into the high school stadium to watch the fireworks. I considered joining them, but I really didn't want to get caught in the crush going home, and I didn't feel like wandering around Collingswood in the dark, either.

I finally made my way over to Newton River Park. It was only about quarter after 8, still too early for fireworks. I settled down at one stump, but it was crumbling and too close to the noisy playground, so I moved back and found another stump closer to the White Horse Pike. I laid back for an hour and watched all the families settle down on their blankets. One family set off small fireworks in the grass. Another family consisted of young teenagers who happily chased each other. "They're like puppies without the cuteness," as one of the girls described her brother and his friend as they played catch with a tennis ball.

It was almost 9:30 before the fireworks appeared, but they were well worth the wait. They were just as spectacular as previous years. I especially loved the two red rings together, and the ones that seemed to explode twice.

I made sure to leave during the finale...and even so, the traffic on the White Horse Pike was still crazy. I crossed with grandparents and their young grandchildren, stopping at CVS for one of those new Dasani flavored waters. The fireworks seemed to continue behind me as I walked up the hill alongside CVS and the (closed for the holiday) car wash. I saw the people who live next-door to the car wash watching the second set of fireworks as I passed. I have no idea who set those off. Haddon Township had theirs last night. Maybe Pensauken?

Well, at any rate, I hope all of my American readers had an equally fun Fourth of July!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Frustrated With Balance...and Work

Did yoga class today. That might not have been a good idea. Once again, the class was incredibly full, with at least 20-25 people (I lost count), counting the teacher Micki. I felt so awkward with all those people around. I always feel so behind everyone else! Not surprisingly, a lot of our poses were floor-based, given how little space there was. I can't pull myself up fast, or lift myself out of a squat.

(I was supposed to meet Rose there, but she never showed. Might be just as well. I arrived at 9:15, and the studio was already half-full.)

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon at home. It was a gorgeous day for early July, windy, partly-sunny, and in the upper 70s. My kitchen was cool enough for me to bake a cake for my cousin Samantha's Fourth of July celebration tomorrow. I used a Betty Crocker Strawberry Cake Mix that was on clearance at the Acme, the last of the blueberries from the Farm Market, and one ripe banana, and made Berry-Banana Snack Cake. I also used some random vegetables sitting in my refrigerator and made pasta salad.

Work was a pain in the rear. It's the beginning of the month, with all the fun that implies. We had lots of obnoxious, demanding old people and ignorant idiots who don't read signs and won't bag even when they're perfectly capable of doing so. Add to this a whole raft of tourists on their way from somewhere else, visiting relatives and friends over the holiday weekend. I'm just glad it wasn't nearly as busy as I thought it would be. It was pretty busy when I came in, but it had gentled down to steady by the time I finished.

I did my own grocery shopping after work. Added blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and peaches to the list of brown sugar, yogurt, ground chicken, and Weight Watchers Smart Ones Single-Cup Desserts, since I work too early to get to the Collingswood Farm Market tomorrow. (I'll get there next Saturday. My schedule next week is pretty decent. Other than mildly fewer hours, I have no hours later than 7:30 or earlier than 2, which works fine by me.)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Nose Doesn't Know

Ugh. I spent most of today in the midst of one of my infrequent but annoying allergy attacks. My nose is running and stuffy and my eyes are sore and itchy, but it's not a cold. The rest of me is fine. No sore throat or nausea. I'm wondering if it has to do with the big thunderstorm we had last night, our first in over a week (and the first I've seen of those "isolated thunderstorms" that have been in the forecast since last weekend).

Probably just as well that I slept late and spent the morning doing computer work. (Lauren was eager to do this month's Monkees role play, so we began and finished it early. Look for it after the Fourth of July weekend.) I've been sneezing and sniffling and blowing my nose like crazy.

My customers at work were cool about my nose, too. Probably just as well that I only did 4 1/2 hours today. It was steady, with no really big problems, and my relief was actually early.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Are You Ready For the Summer?

Now, I am. It was cool enough for me to bake a blueberry-chocolate-chip coffee cake this morning. Most of the remainder of the morning and the afternoon was spent cleaning, making up my rent, and doing things around the apartment. The morning started out cloudy, but by the time I'd taken the last swipe at my computer with a dust rag, the sun was shining and the sky was bright blue. It was too late for me to go out for a long trip. I headed over to Uncle Ken and Dad's for a swim instead.

I'm so glad I did. The water was much warmer today than it was at this time last week, into the lower 80s. I swam and relaxed in the pool for about 40 minutes before Jodie arrived. I climbed out to chat with her and read the Jane Wheel mystery I'd brought. Dad came out with one of his guitars a bit later to practice. It felt very cozy, with Jodie and me reading and Dad playing.

Jodie invited me to stay for a basic summer dinner of grilled cheeseburgers, baked beans, cole slaw, and corn on the cob. Jessa joined Dad, Jodie, and I in the kitchen. It was delicious (even though the patties were store-made, not the home-made kind Mom used to make). The corn was much better than Dad claimed. I two two remaining cobs home with me to make salads and have for lunch this weekend.