Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cleaning Up

Slept in this morning, then spent the late morning and early afternoon doing the dusting. I wanted to get the dusting done today in order to put up the Halloween decorations tomorrow after yoga class, since today is the last day of September. Mother Nature felt like Halloween, too. It was party cloudy and very cool for most of the day, though the wind is gone.

Work wasn't much more exciting. It was dead when I came in, steady but dying when I left. We had some spurts during the usual 4-6 rush hour. Otherwise, it wasn't too bad.
She's Got the Power

If any cartoon brings me back to my childhood, it's Jem and the Holograms. My sisters and I were huge fans of this show between it's mid-80s debut and around 1991-ish. You might call it the first animated American soap opera. No goofy dogs or cutesy babies here. The issues may have been overblown, but they were real issues, from parental abandonment to adoption and foster children to business ethics and moral codes.

The title characters are an extremely 80s pop group, right down to their colorful hair and makeup, the huge shoulder pads on their clothing, and the heavy reliance on technology. Jem's real name is Jerrica. She uses the hologram computer her father created to create two distinct personalities, like an older Hannah Montana. Her back-up group consists of her tomboy sister Kimber and two adopted sisters, one black, one Asian. (A later addition to the group was from Mexico.)

This show is as 80s as you can get. At least three or four songs were incorporated into every episode as flashy MTV-style "music videos." The women wear elaborate, ruffled gowns with enormous shoulder pads and are slathered with makeup that would make Kiss jealous; the men are either sleazoids, dumb goons, British pretty boys, or obvious love interests. (And some of them have interesting hair colors, too.)

Despite still being very much of it's era, this is probably the best of the childhood favorites I've been watching in the past week or so by far. Other than the dated feel, there's some minor complaints. This show can be ridiculously melodramatic, and there is some violence. It's not for the littlest misses, but pre-teen girls who are into Hannah and High School Musical and don't mind the crazy look may still enjoy it.

These two moving episodes from the series' third season are the ones I always remembered best...because they're so different from anything else I've ever seen in an American animated TV show. Jerrica and her sister Kimber recalls how their late father created the Starlight music company and the orphanage it provides money for, the death of their mother, and the adoption of the other Holograms.

Out of the Past - Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Father's Day - Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The girls and I had a lot of the toys, too. Rose was the most into the show and had the most dolls from the line - Aja, the original pink-clad Jem/Jerrica, Roxy of the Misfits, their choreographer friend Dance, and the computer-generated female character who gave Jerrica her Jem personality, Synergy. I had Kimber and the head of the Misfits, Pizazz. (I still like Pizazz a lot. She's one of the major inspirations for the villain character Sheila Saunders in our Monkees role play story.) Anny had the later "Gitter and Gold" Jem/Jerrica and the bright pink stage playset that doubled as a cassette player, along with a lot of the clothes from the "Glitter and Gold" line. I remember setting up all the dolls we had on the stage, playing a Jem cassette, and pretending I was at a concert on their show.

Even Mom wholeheartedly embraced Jem, despite the toys' high price tag. Maybe she liked the catchy music. Or perhaps she appreciated the fact that the show was not only very well-written and performed, but one of the only 80s animated shows written and created almost entirely by women. Or maybe she just liked that the dolls were much larger and more life-like than Barbie dolls, and their huge, glittery shoes were a lot harder to lose or get caught in the vacuum cleaner.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chocolate Mania

Today was laundry day and baking day. It started out as a gorgeous day for both, sunny, windy, and much cooler than it has been, barely 65 degrees. Couldn't be a nicer fall day. It was really quiet at Daddy's, too. Dad was doing chores around the house. Everyone else was at work or running errands.

When the laundry was in the dryer, I went back to my place. My cookie jar had been empty for a while, so I decided it was time to refill it. Most of the recipes in Mom's Big Book of Baking (as well as Alton Brown's baking book) make cookies in huge batches, as much as 60 cookies. That's a heck of a lot more than I need! One of the few that didn't was Chocolate Sprinkles Cookies.

The recipe was simple - cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, butter. Alas, I remembered I was out of regular sugar. I substituted dark brown sugar, which gave it a rich, deep flavor, used one stick of Smart Balance 50/50 butter instead of 1 1/2 of regular unsalted butter, and added the last of a jar of applesauce to replace some of the butter and to finish off that jar. I rolled the first batch in brown chocolate sprinkles and yellow sugar crystal sprinkles for fall, then used the second batch to empty a bottle of rainbow ball sprinkles. They came out delicious, moist and chocolate-y, yet not too heavy or oily.

I went back to my apartment for the laundry, which took longer than usual due to towels, then headed home. Baked the cookies, put the laundry away, and had a quick lunch of Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Butter on home-made bread and carrot sticks. I tossed an apple in my lunch bag for a snack, changed into my now-clean uniform, and hurried off to work as best I could in the increasing wind.

Work was on-and-off busy, but not quite as bad as yesterday, probably due to the end of that 4-day sale. I just made it in on time, and my relief was on time as well. Though it remains windy and dark clouds started gathering around 5PM, so far, there's been no repeat of last night's storms.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Storms Passing Through

I was still in bed at 10 when the Acme tried to call me in. Someone had called out, and they wanted me in at 11. Uh, no. I was up late last night and really wanted to sleep. I appreciate the extra hours, but I hadn't even had breakfast yet!

After I did finally drag myself out of bed and ate and got dressed, I mostly did chores around the apartment. I shook out the rag rug in my bedroom. I made the bed. (I don't often do that. Who's going to see it?) I vacuumed. I got the rebate from X-Men Origins: Wolverine together (though I forgot to send it - I'll do it tomorrow).

After a lunch of home-made chicken salad, I headed to work. I could see why they'd tried to call me in. Work was incredibly busy for a Monday, thanks to this being the end of the month and the last day of a 4-day sale. It was still busy when I left.

Though it was gorgeous this morning, dark clouds were starting to gather in the sky even as I rode to work, and it was very windy. They reached critical mass around 5PM. I was in the register then and didn't get to see the storm, but it must have been a doozy. Our computer system went down for the last hour and a half of my shift.

Thankfully, the rain had slowed down by 7. It was still lightly raining as I rode home, though nothing soaking. I don't think it's even doing that now.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Best of Times Is Now

Began today with Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip Pancakes and the Beatles' radio show on WOGL. ("Songs Released In the Fall" was the theme today.) I tried calling Mom; got Daddy and a load of hooey on how the Giants were going to kick rear today and the Eagles weren't looking so good. Mom was apparently washing off my nephews from breakfast. I'd call them after the game.

Work was really busy, even after the game began. I was in the Express register all day, so it was even busier for me; there were lines snaking around the store at one point. Thank goodness it had slowed down enough by the time I was done for me to just shut down and leave. I had no relief.

I went straight to Dad and Uncle Ken's from work, not even stopping at my apartment on the way. It showered this morning. It was still misting when I went to work, but by the time I was on my way to Uncle Ken's, the sun was coming out. I parked my bike in a full driveway and headed for the party.

It was a really full house. In addition to Dad, Jodie, Jessa, Dolores, and Uncle Ken, we had Samantha and David and their kids, Mark, Mark's mother (and Uncle Ken's first wife - can we say "awkward"?) and her current husband, Mark's daughter Amber and her daughter Ella, and a whole passel of Dolores' children and THEIR children.

Jodie said Rose and Craig had shown up earlier with big news she wouldn't tell me about. I called Rose and got her cell phone. I still haven't heard from her as of press time; no one will tell me what's going on here, other than it's good news.

I hung around for about an hour after the game. Turns out, the Eagles crushed the Chiefs 34-14, which probably accounts for it being quiet in the Acme later. In fact, it was a good Philadelphia sports day all around. The Phillies were playing while I was there; they finally beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5.

Heck, it was a good sports day all around, period. This could be the first day in a while the whole family mostly went home happy. Daddy's earlier bravado wasn't just hot air; the Giants swashed the Buccaneeers 24-0. Mark's beloved Packers won, too, 36-17 over rivals the St. Louis Rams.

Made a Peach-Apple Brown Betty and called Mom after I got home. She was happy but tired. She'd spent the majority of the week working at Michael's and babysitting my nephews. Apparently, Anny wants to move her and her boys to Lower Township next month. On one hand, I can't blame her. Wildwood is no place to live during the non-summer months, and it sure as heck isn't a place to raise kids. She's closer to the Big Lots in North Cape May where she works, too. On the other hand, Skylar just started school. He's having enough trouble adjusting without having to be moved to another school right away. Once again, we'll see what happens.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

All Work and No Play Makes for a Frustrated Emma

Figures. I was looking forward to having today off...and I got called in, of course. Someone called out, they needed help with big Saturday orders, could I come in at 11:30? No. I wanted to run to the bank and the farm market this morning. I went in at 12:30. They said I didn't have to do it...but I really can't turn down the extra hours. I need money. My rent is going to be late.

This, of course, meant I had to rush my morning chores. The bank was my first stop. I vented my frustration at a sympathetic teller, who kindly suggested I look into gettin a cat - she was single and owned one - and start putting myself out more and be more approachable. I didn't realize I wasn't approachable. It's easy for someone to say that when they're not painfully shy.

The farm market was as busy as ever this morning. It was perfect weather for the first appearance of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes, blustery, cool, and partly sunny. I actually didn't need a whole lot today. Just picked up cheddar cheese, corn (loved the corn I had last week), peaches, tiny apples no bigger than my fist, a cucumber, and tomatoes.

There were yard sales everywhere today! One street, East Haddon Avenue, had a whole side filled with yard sales. I made some pretty sweet deals, too. Picked up two Disney Golden Books that retained their 50s-era illustrations, Peter Pan and Alice In Wonderland Meets the White Rabbit, for 50 cents each, and two Disney videos, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas and Fantasia 2000 for $2 each. (The DVDs for both films are long out-of-print. I also saw the video for Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving, but I read that's supposed to be re-released on DVD next week.)

Rode over to the area behind the Oaklyn Public School next. Picked up two records at a sale on West Holly Avenue, the soundtrack to the Doris Day movie Love Me or Leave Me and a Johnny Mathis album. The records were $1 each.

I made my best finds on Kendall Boulevard as I headed home. A middle-aged couple had a nifty spread of items ranging from toys to trinkets to stuffed animals. I dug around in the toys and came up with...a WebKinz Chocolate Lab, complete with her tag! I'd seen other WebKinz for sale that morning, but none that still had their tags on. There was also a lovely shelf that looked like the heart one I picked up at another yard sale two weeks ago, only darker-stained, heavier, and a bit wider. The owners were saying "make us an offer." I picked up the shelf for $3 (same I bought the other shelf for) and the Lab for 37 cents, all the change I had on me.

I barely had time to enjoy everything when I finally got home. I quickly gulped down a lunch of yogurt, tomato slices, and home-made corn bread (I was still eating the corn bread as I dressed!), grabbed an apple and a granola bar for a snack, and hurried out to work.

Work was on-and-off busy. There were a ton of huge orders, some numbering into the $400s. If there's one thing people are still paying money for, it's food. You can cut electronics and cars and houses out of the budget, but people have to eat.

I finished at 4:30. It had quieted down enough by then for me to leave with no problems and no relief. I looked for a few more yard sales in the development across from the Acme known as Audubon Park, then went home. Spent the rest of the evening setting up the new shelf. I moved all my holiday DVDs and any videos that fit to the shelf, which I put between the baker's rack and the coat hanger. Moved children's videos I didn't watch as much to the 80s video shelves where some of the holiday videos were, then moved the animated DVDs, sets and movies, to the big rack. That freed up a LOT of room.

My day was not helped by the return of my toothache. I haven't called for a root canal because my tooth hasn't hurt in a long time. Today, of course, it had to start again. I'll have to see if I can get in this week and if my insurance will cover the whole thing. I really don't have the money in the bank for extra anything right now.

Oh, and meet my Chocolate Lab! The last of the three retired Labradors, she'll move in the Lab House with Nelson the Yellow Lab and Max the Lil' Black Lab. Haven't decided what to call her yet, though.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Enjoy Being an 80s Girl

I've spent the last couple of evenings reviving some wonderful childhood memories on YouTube. One of my fondest memories is of the girl-oriented specials and series my family used to rent from Harbor View Video in Cape May and see in syndication, and more rarely, on broadcast TV, usually on Saturday mornings.

The Charmkins (1984?)

This is one of the first things I remember us renting, around '85 or '86. The first video store I ever saw was a place at the small shopping center in front of the K-Mart in Rio Grande. We rented Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from the first time from there, too. It's long gone now, and I never saw this special again until tonight.

The Charmkins capitalized on the 80s charm fad. The twist - they were little people (and animals) with flower-themed names and smells. The fad outlasted these toys. I don't think we had any, but we loved this special.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Original Care Bears specials - Land Without Feelings and Battle the Freeze Machine (1983 and 1984)

The earliest appearances of the Care Bears on TV. Note the anime-esque animation style, very different from the Care Bears movies and Family series from later in the decade. The spookier Land Without Feelings is my favorite of the two, but they're both a lot of fun, especially if you have very young kids.

Land Without Feelings - Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Battle the Freeze Machine - Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Rose Petal Place (1985)

This is actually the second special made for this short-lived toy line. We had one doll from this line, Daffodil, a cassette with a complete story, and three of the Parker Brothers picture books. I've seen the first special several times on Channel 17 from Philadelphia and Channel 11 from New York, but this is the first time I'd ever seen this one.

I'll add that this is one of my favorite short-lived 80s girls' lines. Marie Osmond is the lovely voice of sensible Rose Petal. Her friends are a lot of fun, too, especially sassy Sunny Sunflower. Nastina the Spider is a great villainess, too.

(Ironically, the dolls this one revolves around never made it onto the market. Kenner canned the line shortly before this special was released, and the second line of dolls only exist as prototypes.)

Real Friends - Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Lady Lovely Locks TV Episodes (Late 80s)

This was one of my sisters' and my favorite toy lines in the late 80s. Lady Lovely Locks and her friends were fancy-tressed nobles who wore lacy gowns and had very, very long, thick hair. The twist with these ladies was they each came with their own clips molded to look like a small animal. My favorite, Maiden Curly Crown, came with chipmunks, for instance. Rose's beloved Maiden Fair-Hair came with rabbits. The villainess, Dutchess Raven Waves, came with gnome-like creatures who were really cute. We also had a prince, Strongheart, who had much shorter hair and wore a cape and trousers.

The story here seems to be Raven Waves badly wants a lock of Lovely Locks' hair, and will do anything to get it. Another story running concurrently is Strongheart (here with long blond hair, looking quite different than the short, dark-haired doll) has been turned into a dog, and is looking for a way to permanently return to his human form and tell Lady Lovely Locks how he feels about her.

Harbor View Video had a video with a few episodes of the short-lived TV show we used to rent constantly. Here's two of the episodes from that tape...

In the Kingdom Of Ice

The Wishing Bone

The Yum Yums (1989)

The Yum Yums, a stuffed animal line from the late 80s-early 90s, is one of the last of it's kind, both as a cartoon and as toys. The toys smelled like the candy they were respectively named after...but they didn't make for great entertainment outside of one's imagination. I only saw this one once, in part, on a random CBS Saturday morning, and never saw the whole thing until the other night.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I'll post more as I find them!
Early Autumn

It was absolutely gorgeous this morning, 75 degrees and sunny as can be. It was too nice to spend the whole morning cleaning. After breakfast, I went out to the White Horse Pike to run errands.

My first stop was the Oaklyn Post Office. Silly me forgot to buy stamps for her bills when she sent them out, and they came right back to her. I bought my stamps and sent my bills along. Thankfully, the post office wasn't busy. The tiny Oaklyn Post Office is a total pain when there's more than two or three people in there. (Trust me. You should see it at Christmas.)

The White Horse Pike was busy with cars and people as I headed towards WaWa. A t-shirt shop was having a sidewalk clearance sale, but alas, I had just enough money for milk and a soda fountain drink. WaWa wasn't bad when I got in. I made myself a Cherry-Vanilla Coke Zero on the fountain, then headed home.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon cleaning the kitchen. It wasn't quite as bad as the bathroom, but the stove in particular needed to be scrubbed. I opened windows and aired out towels, enjoying the fresh fall breeze. After I finished cleaning, I made myself a quick lunch of a slice of "Pillow Bread" (from Alton Brown's baking book) and honey, carrot sticks and peanut butter, and a tomato-cucumber salad.

Even cleaning was more exciting than work. Between the nice day and this being the end of the month, work was dead for almost the entire night, even during the usual rush hour time. I didn't have much to pick up afterwards, either. Mostly yogurt - Acme's having a 39 cent sale on Dannon Yogurt this weekend. Also bought toothbrushes for a dollar, Smart Balance butter, peanut butter, and another weekend sale, canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Busy Balance

Began my day with the Thursday yoga class. There were seven people there, counting the teacher Karin - larger than previous Thursday classes, but not huge. We worked on standing poses, like Warrior, and back bends. I'm getting much better at standing poses. My Warrior's fine. It's those back bends I'm not too great at. There's just too much of me to lift for Bridge, and forget Full Wheel. I'm simply not flexible enough.

I was surprised to see the thrift shop open after I left class. It was 10:30, and Friends In Deed usually opens at 11. I dropped off a small bag of donations and said "hi" to Erica. She'd just gotten a box of really good records in. I just ended up with the Beatles' White Album.

I didn't want to buy more records...because I went across the street to Haddon Hair Designs after I left Erica and got my hair done. Between my being busy lately and my being broke, I'd been putting it off, but it was just too thick and heavy now. While my layered hairstyle isn't quite as cute as the one I got in February, it's at least a bit shorter and less thick.

It took a lot less time to get my hair done than I thought it would. Instead of going to lunch, I went straight to the library. I shelved DVDs and did some of the huge piles of children's books. The library was fairly busy, but not too bad. I got there around 11:30-12PM, earlier than I usually do.

I took out some books after I finished shelving. My favorite find was two of the books about the newest American Girl, Rebecca, a Jewish tenement dweller in 1914. Though her Hanukkah story, Candlelight For Rebecca, was interesting, I loved Rebecca and the Movies. Rebecca wins for coolest American Girls birthday by far - her Uncle Max, a movie actor, takes her to the studio he works at in New Jersey, and she finds herself thrust into a small but important role in the studio's newest movie!

I hauled the bag with the Rebecca books, along with two adult mysteries, a baking cookbook, a book on changing careers, and a book on writing short stories for children, onto my bike. Didn't have much money on me after my haircut, so I just stopped at WaWa for a hoagie and then went home.

Since I hadn't take as long at the library as I thought I would, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon listening to The White Album and cleaning the bathroom. I don't know why the bathroom's been getting so darn scummy lately. Maybe it's the humid weather we've had all summer. I'll do the kitchen tomorrow before work.

Made a delicious dinner of popcorn shrimp stir-fry with spinach and Chinese cabbage and sweet New Jersey Corn on the Cob while watching the wonderful 1944 Technicolor swashbuckler The Black Swan with Maureen O'Hara and Tyrone Power, with the last of the Peaches and Cream Cake from the Eagles game on Sunday for dessert.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Rains Came...and Went

After all the scary news about what flooding did to the southeast and my friend Linda Young's frightening commute to work on Monday, I wasn't thrilled to wake up to rain. Thank goodness it wasn't anything nearly as bad as what Georgia went through. By the time I was up, eating cereal and doing my bills, it was merely cloudy, humid, and a bit warmer than it has been.

Work was the opposite of yesterday, quiet when I came in, busy when I left, with one spurt around 11:30-12...which is pretty much what I expected from an 11AM-4PM shift. I again helped clean during downtime, scrubbing the sides of the registers. I also got a bit more information on why we're suddenly tidying up the store. One of the managers told me we got a new "team," but she didn't say "team of what." Head managers, I guess. Some guy with slicked-back dark hair has been going ballistic, saying whomever "they" are will be going through the store with white gloves, checking everything. I thought he meant health inspectors.

The sun was out when I finished my shift at 4, and there was a very nice breeze, but it was still a bit humid. I took advantage of the decent weather to do what I'd planned this afternoon. My porch desperately needed to be swept, and the men who cleaned the gutters last weekend swept up most of their leaf mess but left muddy footprints on my porch furniture. The chairs in particular needed to be scrubbed.

I had an omelet for dinner and watched Bringing Up Baby, the classic screwball comedy involving Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, the leopard of the title ("Baby"), Asta the dog from the Thin Man movies, a dinosaur bone, and a seasoned cast of character actors that include May Robison, Barry Fitzgerald, and Charlie Ruggles. Oh yeah, and Cary Grant in a negligee. ;)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome to Fall

First of all, I hope all of you enjoyed the first official day of the fall season.

Started the laundry early today, since I worked at one. Uncle Ken, Dad, and Dolores were home when I first arrived, but Dad was the only one who stayed. The other two eventually went out to run errands. I read a book on writing and publishing children's fiction while the laundry was in the washer and ran to CVS for eggs while they were in the dryer. (And BTW, eggs are up to $1.79 at the Oaklyn CVS - more expensive than they were the last time I bought eggs there, but still cheaper than anywhere else.)

I'm glad I did go out around 9 to get the laundry done. I finished around 11:30, which gave me an hour to eat lunch (a Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Butter sandwich), watch a few Muppet Show episodes, and get to work on time.

Work was relatively quiet early quiet, that a manager asked me to clean a very dusty metal display shelving unit holding Herrs chips and dip. I got most of it done between busy spurts - it was on-and-off later.

The weather was no help. It started out somewhat sunny, but clouds had moved in by the time I was heading for work, and it had grown more humid. I'm just hoping we don't get the crazy deluge they're having in the southeast right now. We had enough of that last month.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quick and Painless

Today actually went pretty fast. I slept late. Watched Muppet Show episodes while having the last of the zucchini bread for breakfast/brunch. Messed around on the computer for a while. It was a gorgeous day, which I really appreciated, because a lot of my friends online who live in parts of the south (like Linda Young) were badly waterlogged.

I got a late start to work, but I did (barely) make it on time. Work was mostly steady all day. It did get busier during the 4-6PM rush hour, but other than some mildly obnoxious customers, there were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When the Saints Come Marching In

Started off an absolutely gorgeous Sunday morning with Peanut Butter Whole Wheat Pancakes, the WOGL Brunch With the Beatles show (their movie Help! was in the spotlight), and a call to Mom. Mom was fine. She and Keefe went to a block party in their neighborhood last night and had a great time. Keefe had gone out to breakfast with Anny and her brood. Skylar's doing better at school, too. Apparently, he has a young teacher and aides who are used to dealing with difficult or clingy children. Mom says he loves going to school now.

I made a glaze for my Peaches and Cream Cake, then headed over to Uncle Ken's for the Saints-Eagles game. Jessa was there, spending the weekend with her father, as were Uncle Ken and Dolores, back from North Carolina. Samantha and David and their kids and Karen and Jim and their son CJ came in a bit later. Dolores' grandchildren Mercedes and Blake were there when I arrived.

The tinkling notes of a Mr. Softee ice cream truck cut through the screams and hoots and hollers about mid-way through the second quarter. Naturally, the six kids wanted ice cream the moment they heard the music. Most of their parents said "no," but Uncle Ken and Jessa ended up buying all of them soft ice cream in cones anyway. I didn't get any. I was full enough from the popcorn, pretzels, hulless caramel corn, sausage sandwiches, and pepperoni bread in the house. Not to mention, I hadn't bought any money with me and wasn't about to beg for it.

I joined the kids on the porch with their messy cones (after a detour inside when Blake accidentally got my elbow in his ice cream). We were deciding whether Mercedes' slurped chocolate ice cream looked more like a hitchhiker's thumb or a mountain peak when I saw something fat and yellow buzzing around my Eagles t-shirt. The moment the kids saw that huge bee, they screamed like they were in a horror movie and ran down the street. (Matt claiming that he swore it was a killer African bee did not help.) I ran after them and herded them back to the house before their parents realized they were gone.

I wish the game was as fun. The Eagles started well, but finally lost to the Saints, 48-22.

Work was fairly boring - steady, not too busy or quiet for a typical Sunday in September, with a lot of big orders and no major problems.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Last Harvest of Summer

I awoke to a day that could not have been more perfect. It was 60 degrees, breezy, and sunny when I headed out to run my usual Saturday morning errands. I was actually cold when I got out of bed. I couldn't have asked for a nicer last weekend of summer.

The Oaklyn Library had their second fund-raising Book and Yard Sale today. I stopped there first on my way to the bank, but there was nothing interesting this time. Saw a lot of yard sales today. Not counting the Oaklyn Library Yard Sales, there had to be at least five or six scattered around Oaklyn and Collingswood this morning. Alas, I didn't make any good finds this time. One sale in Collingswood had crate shelves for five dollars each, but I thought it was asking too much for something that wasn't big or in that great of shape.

The bank wasn't busy when I got there, but the Farm Market was hopping. Lots of people and lots of dogs out and about, enjoying the stunning weather. I finally ended up with peaches, tiny little gingergold apples, small portobello mushrooms, two ears of corn, two tomatoes, and bunches of spinach and Chinese Cabbage. I had the cabbage sauteed in olive oil with a clove of garlic for lunch, along with tomatoes and light mayonnaise and the last poached chicken leg.

Work was steady, but not too bad. I guess everyone was out enjoying the day. It was dying all together by the time I picked up olive oil and a box of French Vanilla cake mix and headed home. The cake mix is to make Peaches and Cream Cake for the Eagles game at Uncle Ken's house tomorrow; it's baking in the oven as I write this.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tired Balance

Boy, am I tuckered out. Made an early start this morning for Yogawood, since the Friday classes tend to be busy. There were 14 people there, including the teacher, Micki - pretty big, but I've seen worse. We concentrated on breathing techniques and on balancing - not something I'm good at. I came pretty close to falling a few times.

I didn't have much money left after yesterday, so I went straight home after class. I mostly just hung out and did stuff online. Had a Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Butter Sandwich and a salad for lunch. It was still cool, windy, and cloudy when I went to Yogawood, but by the time I was heading for work, the clouds were starting to break up, and the sun was appearing.

The sun finally came out entirely while I was in work, making this a gorgeous day. It was a little bit busier than Wednesday, and the day went quickly. Got my schedule today, too. Good news - no hours later than 7, and I work late enough on Sunday to see the first half of the Eagles game. Bad news - slightly fewer hours, and no days off until Thursday, though I do have Thursday and Saturday off.

I was in the mood for ice cream, so I stopped at Leo's Yum Yums on West Clinton Avenue down the street from me after doing my grocery shopping. I had their home-made pumpkin ice cream in a small cup. It was very sweet, creamy, and pumpkin-y. Leo's should be on it's last week or two. The sign outside says that it's now only open from 5-9PM, likely on the weekends.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Beast Is a Beauty

I didn't sleep well last night at all. My allergies, which haven't been bad for the last couple of weeks, came back with a vengeance yesterday evening. It was quarter of 3 before I finally settled down long enough for some shut-eye. I didn't drag myself out of bed until 10:30AM.

May have been just as well. It was once again cloudy, cool, damp, and gloomy. Not exactly the kind of day that cries out for adventure. I lay in bed for while and wrote in my journal and just daydreamed, then had a quick cereal breakfast and watched cartoons.

My cookie jar was empty again. I've been craving chocolate, so I made those Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies from the March issue of Prevention. They came out a little dry, and I burned the bottoms of the second batch a little, but not bad. I made them a bit bigger than the last batch I made back in the spring.

I'm so glad to be baking again. I miss it during the summer, when it's too hot to turn on the oven.

I went online for a little while when the cookie dough was chilling, but by the time the cookies were in the oven, I was bored. I needed shampoo anyway, so I took my bike over to Wal-Mart. I'm really not fond of our local Wal-Mart, which is unorganized and under-stocked, but it was almost 3PM by that point, and I didn't have the time to take the train and the bus to Target. Wal-Mart was having a sale on underwear, so I bought a bag of Fruit-of-the-Looms, along with the shampoo I needed and a spare bike inner tube (just in case).

Made a few quick stops after that. Went to Staples to see if they had any 1 or 2GB Flash Memory Drives. They didn't, so I rode across the parking lot to FYE. I browsed a little there, but being low on money, I just bought what I came in for, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I avoided the traffic on both Pikes and Nicholson Road and took the long way home down Market Street in Audubon and over the train bridge into Oaklyn.

There were men doing work around the house when I came home. They're the same guys who clean the gutters every spring and fall. I hope they cleaned off the roof, too. Maybe that'll finally get rid of the ants. I've only seen a few in the bathroom since the rotten branch came down, so that seems to have solved that problem, but they're still in the kitchen.

Made a dinner of spiced beets, small beef eye round steaks, and leftover vegetables and oven-fried eggplant while watching Wolverine. As with the third X-Men film, I don't see what a lot of the fanboys were complaining about. Granted, once again, I'm not a comics fan, so I don't know the full back story here, but what I saw was mostly well-written, acted, and executed. And no wonder a lot of the female reviewers were overwhelmed back in May - there's a lot of handsome testosterone on display, from Ryan Reynolds' chatty swordsman Wade Wilson (Reynolds is so wasted in fluff like The Proposal) to Liev Schriber's nasty assassin Victor Creed.

And of course, there's Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, the hottest triple threat on two continents. It's worth it just for the scene where he's running around naked in a waterfall. Not that you see much, but still... ;)
New Monkees Story Posted!

Just posted our newest Monkees role play story, "Monkees of the Caribbean!" Enjoy!

Our Monkees Role Play Site

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Cloudy Day in Oaklyn Town

I spent the majority of a cool, cloudy day inside, editing this month's Monkees role play story (it'll be up sometime in the next few days). It rained early this morning, but it must have been light rain. Only the half of my porch without the trees hanging over it was wet at all.

(And look for the Monkees role play story tonight or sometime tomorrow.)

I also checked out a new feature in WebKinz World - the KinzStyle Outlet! All the clothes that were once in the W-Shop have moved to their own section. PJ Collie sells a much better-organized selection of clothing and handles a new feature - the Clothing Recycler. It works pretty much the same way the stoves, blenders, and sandwich makers do. Put three items in the spaces, push a button, and see what it makes! At the very least, unlike the stoves, when you get a combination that doesn't work, you get a cute patchwork hat, shirt, or pair of pants. (When you make a food combination that doesn't work, you get gak or gunk.)

It was a lot more enthralling than work. Work was dead tonight, likely thanks to the weather and this being the middle of the week and the middle of a month that's rarely busy anyway. I spent at least an hour early on doing returns. We had two mildly busy spurts around 5-6ish, and that was it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Grand Day For Biking

This was a fairly quiet morning for a day off. Did the laundry after breakfast. As with last week, Dad was the only one at home. Everyone else was either at work, school, or still on vacation. Dad's in the midst of closing the pool, which means yes, that's the end of swimming for the year. (Not that I was able to do a lot of it, anyway, between cold nights and tons of rain.) It was such a nice day (80 degrees and partly sunny), I didn't feel like sitting inside. I ran to the Oaklyn Library and to WaWa for milk and a soda fountain Coke Zero with the chocolate flavored syrup.

I did do something kind of painful while loading the laundry into the washer. Dad's laundry machine is a top-loading model. I thought I had the lid back all the way, but it flew closed...right when I was holding onto the side while I grabbed a shirt. It slammed right on my left pinky finger. Ouch! Even Dad heard my cry. I was able to keep it on ice while my laundry was in the dryer. Thankfully, I can move it, so I think it's just bruised, but...ow.

I didn't have a very big load of laundry this week, and it didn't take very long to do. I was at home by 12:30. Put the laundry away and ate lunch (a Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Butter Sandwich and a juicy Mollie Delicious apple), then headed back out, this time on the bike for this week's library session.

The library was surprisingly busy for a beautiful day. I put away piles of DVDs and shelved Easy Reader books, but I didn't want to be in the library for too long. It was just too nice. Other people thought it was nice, too. Kids just out of school were walking home in packs or riding their bikes. I saw adults out for walks or on bikes, too. Stopped at Dollar General Plus next to the Westmont Acme and bought two containers of spices, Ground Cloves (which I'm almost out of), and Celery Seed, then headed to the Walgreens on the corner of Cuthbert Road and Haddon Avenue.

Walgreens was busy, too, but not all the customers were as pleasant as the people on the road. A group of grade-school age boys bounced basketballs they were hoping to buy in the large toys section in the back. An old man bawled about some item or the other that hadn't come out to the price he wanted. I didn't find the shampoo I wanted, either. The brands I wanted were on sale...but for some reason, not the ones made for curly hair. I don't know why all the others were part of the sales, but the curl shampoos weren't. I bought a Lil'Kinz Lion and a buy-one, get-one deal on mouth wash.

I left the spice shakers in my bike basket. I figured they'd be fine there. Who would steal spice shakers? Well...I don't know who, but someone did. They were gone when I came outside, and I couldn't find them anywhere. I wasn't going to fuss over dollar-store spice shakers that I should have taken inside with me, but it IS annoying. It could have been anyone, but my money is on the boys with the basketballs or one of the other roving bands of kids on their way home from school I saw this afternoon. Normally, I complain about all the activities kids are given these days to keep them out of trouble...but maybe their parents have a point about that.

Rode straight home after that via the paths along the creek in Newton River Park. I swept the porch (which needed it after the storms last week) after getting in, then read the From College to Career book for about an hour. It would be a lot easier for me to go from College to Career if I had an easier time talking to people. I'm too shy (and broke) to attend things like conferences and conventions. I never feel like I know what other people know. Everyone in the room always seems to know more than I do. I feel so out of place.

Made ratatouille, pecan-crusted flounder, and romaine lettuce and cucumbers with Light Asian Dressing for dinner. Or at least, I tried to. I didn't crush the nuts small enough, and they wouldn't cling to the flounder and got all clumpy.

Watched the 1945 State Fair during dinner. The charming tale of the adventures of an Iowa farming family, the Frakes, at the fair of the title, this is the first of two versions of the only Rogers and Hammerstein musical made directly for the screen. (Actually, it's the second of three versions. There was a non-musical, black and white State Fair in 1933 with Janet Gaynor and Will Rogers.) Mom rented this during my teen years, and my sisters and I all fell in love with it. I've always liked the women especially - Jeanne Crain is lovely as the intelligent Margie. (Good taste in men, too. Dana Andrews, who normally specializes in action and dramas, is her hot newspaper beau.) The Frake parents, hog-obsessed Charles Winninger and mincemeat-making Fay Bainter, are fun, too. I love how believable they are as a couple.

Oh, and meet my new lion! I want to name him after the wonderful old lion at the Cape May County Zoo from it's inception in 1978 to the late 80s - early 90s. That lion was one of their first attractions, and he was a favorite of not only my family, but the entire southern Cape May County area. The lion had apparently been rescued from a circus that mistreated it. He was scrawny and missing fur, and they never were able to mate him with the too-aggressive lionesses who just tended to nick his ears, but he was lovable and had a roar that could be heard for miles. It was major news on all the local TV stations when he finally died. He's buried on the Zoo property and has a headstone near the entrance.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Here Comes the Sun (About Time...)

I awoke to a gorgeous, sunny, 80 degree day in the neighborhood. It was too nice to be inside all day like I planned, so I went for a short errand run to CVS for a few things. It felt nice to be outside again after all the rain we had last week. I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon doing stuff online and having a quick chicken leg-and-salad lunch before heading to work.

Work was dead when I came in, on-and-off steady when I finished. I had no problems getting in or out and, unlike yesterday, no annoying customers. The good weather must have put everyone in a good mood.

Maybe it put people in TOO good of a mood. When I rode home, a bunch of teenagers in a car honked their horn and made annoying noises out their windows. I flashed them a certain inappropriate digit, and they did it back. Immature jerks.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Good Day Sunshine

Though there were a few clouds when I woke up around 9:30, by the time I was eating Whole Wheat Peach Spice Pancakes and talking to my mother on my cell phone, the sun was shining and it was about 80 degrees and dry.

Mom was fine. She'd spent a week that was just as wet in Erma working at Micheal's. (I guess she thought it was better to have a job she didn't like than no job at all.) She was alone at that point, getting ready for the first pro football games of the 2009-2010 season. Dad had gone out for a bike ride, and Keefe was with my sister Anny and her kids. Rose had called her earlier in the week and was also fine, but very busy with her last year of law school.

My nephew Skylar apparently isn't taking school well. He won't leave his mother and is clingy. I can't blame the kid. Anny's gone through a couple of boyfriends since having him and several non-romantic friends. Poor little boy's barely had any stability in his life besides his grandparents and uncle. He's probably afraid Mommy's going to go away and leave him, too. This week's bad weather didn't help. His school was closed later in the week due to the flooding that's constant in the Wildwoods whenever there's so much as a small shower, causing his mother to have to call out of her job. She's already had to cut hours to be able to take him to and from school, a few blocks from their apartment.

Work was mostly fine, off-and-on steady despite a really good Eagles game. My last customer was a real pain. He got upset when his order came out to more than he thought it would be. Two bags of snack string cheese cost $5.19. He claimed he saw $2.50 on the tag. I went back and checked them myself. There were other tags around it that were on sale, but they weren't...and none of them were on sale for $2.50. (Pull-apart string cheese is always expensive for some reason, even on sale. It's probably the packaging.) The guy had a fit, complaining that he'd read on the label that it was $2.50. I ended up just taking one off. He got the price of the big Acme container of old fashioned oatmeal wrong, too. He had really, REALLY thick glasses, partially yellow, like goggles. He may not have been too good at seeing anything, including small print on grocery store tags.

Oh, and the Eagles trounced the Carolina Panthers in their opening game, 38-10...but it may cost them their quarterback. Donovan McNabb fractured a rib and may not play next week. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Farmer's Bounty

It was cool, cloudy, and humid when I awoke this morning, but not raining. I took this as a good omen and ran to the farm market. Despite the weather, it was still very busy. There were a lot of dogs this week. I saw everything from tiny Maltese to a huge, handsome German Shepard. I saw the first fall squash and gourds this week. Eventually bought an acorn squash, along with peaches, Mollie delicious apples, a cucumber, two yellow squash, romaine lettuce, carrots, a yellow onion, three tomatoes, and a bottle of wildflower honey from the honey seller.

There were a few yard sales today, mostly in Oaklyn. I hit paydirt at one on Washington Street behind the Oaklyn School, the same street Mark and Vanessa live on. They had some really nice wood furniture pieces, including a tall, narrow oak wood shelf with cute heart cut-outs between each shelf. I bought it for $3, deciding I'd either use it to clear the smaller Care Bears off the Ikea shelves next to my computer desk or to clear CDs and use those crates for records.

It ended up being the perfect size and shape to fit between the two windows in the front of my bedroom. I put it on top, where the two shelves meet, then filled the shelves with all the Beanie-type Care Bears - the classic Wish, Funshine, Grumpy, Cheer, Share, and Perfect Panda, and the more slender Adventures In Care-A-Lot Oopsy, True Heart, Heartsong, and Harmony. Wish and Funshine now hold the "wish" sign Linda Young made me for my birthday on the top shelf.

I ate lunch after setting up the shelf, then went to work. Work was busy, but nothing unusual for a weekend. I was in and out with no trouble.

My schedule ended up being pretty good, too, much better than I thought it would be. I work until 7 every night but Wednesday, when I work 3-8. I have Tuesday and Thursday off. Only complaint is I have to miss the first Eagles game of the year tomorrow, but at least I get to sleep in.

I made some baked peaches with two bruised peaches that were starting to go bad, adding butter and brown sugar to the cavities in the middle. It didn't say to add water to the pan, so I didn't. The brown sugar ended up burning and sticking to the pan. The peaches came out all right, but I wasted a lot of brown sugar. Next time, I'll add water to the bottom of the pan.

Oh, and I got an automated call from Verizon. Supposedly, they've fixed the problem. I'll give them a month to see if everything continues to be fine. If I'm still having problems after a month, they're gonna have to come in and start climbing poles.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bread and (Hot) Chocolate

The weather was lousy today. It's done nothing but rain, and it's still raining. Despite the weather, I had chores that had to be done. I rode over to the Acme in the rain for my paycheck and groceries. It showered on my way over there, and I got very wet. Good thing it was dead. I picked up yogurt, bananas, buttermilk, eggs, chicken legs, steak, a can of pineapple (which I left at the store and will have to retrieve tomorrow), a bag of wheat germ, allergy medicine on clearance, and the latest Entertainment Weekly with one of my favorite Beatles pictures on the cover, the one of John on Paul's shoulders. (I don't normally buy EW outside of the movie previews, but come on, it's the Beatles.)

Read the magazine for a little while next to the store while I waited for the rain to stop, or at least slow down. When it didn't appear to be doing either after ten minutes, I stuffed the Beatles in my backpack, rode home, and got wet again. I put everything away when I finally got in, then had lunch and did a few chores around the apartment until the guy from Verizon finally arrived.

The poor repair guy had a hard time finding my apartment. First of all, he was from New York and didn't know the area well. When he did find my house, he couldn't find the path leading to the back. It's very dark under all those trees, and the path is hard to find if you don't look for it. He did finally get upstairs and checked the online connection. Turns out the signal's too far from the main Verizon headquarters, which is why it keeps breaking up. (Also explains why whatever they did in the spring didn't take.) Good thing it wasn't something that needed to be worked on outside. This was not a day to be messing around on telephone poles and wires.

Since the computer was on and the Internet was working (for the time being), I messed around a little online. The rain let up enough by about 4:30 for me to make my last errand run of the day to the bank. The bank was busy when I made it there around quarter of 5. (Not surprising, given that's when it closes.) Since the rain was still light enough to not be soaking, I walked to WaWa to treat myself to a hot chocolate, dodging puddles and fairly heavy traffic on the White Horse Pike.

Spent the rest of the evening at home. I baked Pillow Bread, a cornmeal yeast bread from Alton Brown's I'm Just Here For More Food cookbook, had salad, potatoes, and Chicken Legs Poached In Lemon White Wine Herb Sauce for dinner, and watched the Disney Beauty and the Beast.

And's STILL raining.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Balance With a Twist

Since I had counseling today, I began my morning with the second Thursday morning Yogawood class. Once again, it was extremely small, just four all together including me and the teacher Karin. We mostly worked on twisting and standing poses, nothing too complicated. That was fine with me. I hadn't slept well the night before, and I overslept and had to rush to get to class.

I spent most of the time between class and counseling browsing in the small shops in Collingswood. I explored the library. Took a look at the gourmet food shop. Went through the fancy gowns at Marlene's and Veronique's. (The latter has the plus-sized gowns.) Said "hi" to Erica at the thrift shop.

When I found out that counseling was later than I thought it was, I had lunch at Texas Wieners, one of several new stores that had opened on the bottom floor of the new Lumberyard Condos since July. Texas Wieners is apparently an offshoot of a store in South Philly. Like it's Lumberyard neighbor Primo Hoagies, it's a low-cost alternative to some of the pricier eateries in Collingswood. As you can guess by the name, they mostly specialize in hog dogs, but they also sell sausages, burgers, and fish and crab cake sandwiches. I decided to try something a little different - the "Fish-O-Rab," a fish cake sandwich with broccoli rabe and mozzarella. The fish cake was a bit mushy and the roll was smaller than I thought it would be, but otherwise, it was quite tasty...and only $2.89, a steal in a town where a simple burger can cost up to $7.00 without tax.

Counseling went fairly well. I told Scott about everything that's been going on lately, from my wonderful vacation to the problems my parents are having with their marriage. We mostly discussed my job search...or lack thereof. He mostly said to keep reading the books on jobs and job hunting I took out of the library and take out more.

I had briefly debated taking a longer ride. The weather, which had been cloudy and cool all day, was getting worse by 2PM, adding a chilly wind to the mix. I finally decided that, between the early and rushed start and the weather, it just wasn't a biking day. I headed home right after counseling.

Got a few more chores in at the apartment. I swept the sawdust from the branch that was taken down yesterday off the porch. I hung the general fall decorations and redressed the Sailor Moon dolls in their regular uniforms.

I baked a zucchini cake. Mom sent me the recipe a few weeks ago, but I didn't have the time or cool enough weather to make it until today. It only required eggs, sugar, spices, flour, baking soda, and zucchini and/or whatever fruits and nuts you have on hand. I added farm market zucchini and carrots and a can of pineapple chunks. It came out incredibly moist and flavorful, like a sweeter carrot cake.

Called Verizon right before making dinner. My internet has been a pain for months now. I thought it was fixed in the spring, but it's gone right back to going down again. Last night, shortly after midnight, it went down for 20 minutes, interrupting Lauren's and my chat time. Thankfully, the lady I talked to was not only the nicest and most helpful person I've ever dealt with at Verizon, but she was the fastest, too. I only had to wait a few minutes for her to find someone to come in tomorrow afternoon to look at my line.

It had been cloudy all day, but it didn't start raining until sometime between my conversation with Verizon and starting dinner. I had pan-seared salmon, cucumber-tomato salad, and Oven-Fried Eggplant (eggplant in a wheat germ-flour batter baked in a stove at a high temperature - got the recipe from a cookbook a roommate gave me in college) while listening to the rain and watching Grand Hotel. I don't think it's raining now, but I read online that it's supposed to continue on and off for the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

And the Branch Comes Tumbling Down

Woke up late and had a late breakfast. It was still cloudy, cool, and humid when I went around to the side path to pick up sticks. Once again, I was bitten alive by mosquitoes, but I did get it done. It never takes me very long to do the path anyway. It's not like it's long or wide. I tossed the sticks in the backyard (which is all trees and leaves) and swept the path itself.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on editing this month's Monkees Role Play, which Lauren and I finished yesterday. Look for it hopefully sometime in the next two weeks!

I finished editing with enough time to have a nice lunch of Garden State Turkey Meatball Soup (defrosted home-made chicken stock with cut-up turkey meatballs and summer vegetables from the farm market) and tomatoes with light mayonnaise. As I did the dishes, I heard the sound of footsteps coming upstairs. I saw two men with a chainsaw. Miss Ellie had finally hired someone to cut that rotted branch down. The branch was so thick and heavy, they had to do it three segments, but it's now laying on the pile of sticks in the backyard.

Work wasn't nearly as productive. It was surprisingly busy for a Wednesday, right up until about 7PM, and a real pain and a half. Once again, there were a lot of cranky, annoying, or even plain crazy customers. One woman dressed like a bag lady in heavy layers of clothing and a thick winter hat despite the relative warmth came around at least two times to me and once to another customer. The first one, she bought a small order and had to take off the hot dogs because she couldn't afford them and hadn't bought the ones that were on sale...and then gave 15,000 orders on how to bag without being much of a help herself, including all but stifling a potted flower she was apparently going to give to someone. (One bag would have sufficed, not three plastic bags and a paper one.) She returned an hour later, apparently in an attempt to bring back an item. I directed her to customer service, which handles returns. I saw her a few hours after that, annoying another cashier, this time with a sullen-looking young girl in tow. She also rambled on about how she saw some suspicious-looking men sitting outside talking on their cell phones, and oh, we'd better watch out, because they seemed to be getting ready to rob us! (No one tried to rob us while I was there, as far as I know.)

It remained cloudy when I rode to work this afternoon. I saw a woman buying an umbrella earlier this evening and asked her if it had rained yet. She said no, it hadn't. It must have come down sometime between when I talked to her and when I finished, because by the time I got out around 8:30, the streets and the ground were wet. It looks like it may have rained lightly.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Back to the Library Again

Started off today with the laundry, a walk to WaWa to get milk and a soda, and work in the yard. It was still cool and cloudy, but the humidity had increased, and the wind was gone. Picking up the sticks in the front yard wasn't too bad, except for the mosquitoes. They made a literal buffet out of my lower legs. (Good thing I wore capris today.)

I really do enjoy helping Miss Ellie out. She's an older woman and can't get around as well as she used to. Besides, I live here, too. I don't want to trip over sticks and acorns any more than she does, and I also want the yard to look nice. I left the sticks in a pile, as per Miss Ellie's instructions. I'll do the side path leading to my apartment tomorrow and rake the leaves and acorns later this week. (If I can - it's supposed to rain for the rest of the week.)

It was very, very quiet at Uncle Ken and Dad's today. Dad was the only one home, and he spent the morning cleaning out the pool and watering the plants in the pool area. Jessa was at school, Jodie was at work, and Uncle Ken and Dolores are still on vacation in North Carolina.

Headed to the library after lunch. There weren't many DVDs to put away, so I just organized the children's DVDs and put away children's Easy Reader books. The Easy Reader books are shorter than young adult chapter books and have pictures, but longer and more wordy than most picture books. Some of you may be familiar with the titles - Amanda and Oliver Pig, Nate the Great, Arthur the Hedgehog, Frog and Toad, and some of the most famous Dr. Seuss books, including The Cat In the Hat, fall into this category.

Made two quick stops on the way home. I browsed JoAnn's fall selection and checked out their hobby section. I remember seeing a line of 18-inch American Girl-like dolls in the Micheal's in the Consumer Square Mall when I was in college, but I didn't have the money for anything from the line at the time. (Not to mention the modern clothes didn't really go with my Victorian doll Samantha.) I was hoping JoAnn's carried the line, but no dice. I didn't see anything related to doll-making at all, not even clothing patterns. I'd really like to find some clothes for Little Jessa, especially pants. Felicity needs clothes, too.

I stopped at Super Fresh for their peanut butter sale ($1.34 for Skippy Super Chunk Natural), then headed home. I read the book I took out of the Haddon Township Library on finding careers after college (I must have done something wrong there) and watched the 1982 musical Grease 2.

Yes, Grease 2 is the infamous sequel to the 1972 stage show and 1978 movie Grease. It's 1961, two years after the original movie and show were set. Poodle skirts have been replaced by straight skirts, hot cars by hot motorcycles, soda shoppes by bowling alleys, and Eisenhower-era conformity by Kennedy-era optimism. The Pink Ladies and the T-Birds are still the ultimate in cool at Rydell High School...but head Pink Lady Stephanie is sick of obnoxious head T-Bird Johnny and decides she wants something more mature in a man and a motorcycle. That cute new British guy Michael might be the one...but he's the smartest kid in school, and there's a code that says the Birds and the Ladies can't date outside their clique. Michael, however, turns out to be smart in more ways than even he dreamed of...

Ok, so it's cheesy, most of the songs are pretty bad, the main plot is a rehash of the one in the first Grease, and it lacks the grit of the original stage and movie versions. On the other hand, I actually like how that "uncool kid into cool kid" plot is handled here better. Sandy's transformation, both in the show and the movie, always seemed to happen too fast. (It's slightly better-explained in the movie's novelization.) Here, Michael's change from shy, smart Brit to hot biker is done far more gradually...and instead of just turning up in the last few minutes, it drives most of the film. And unlike Sandy, Michael's not asked to give up being smart. As Stephanie says at the end, she gets two for the price of one, a hot biker and a hot genius...and she likes him that way.

The numbers are a bigger problem. They range from one of the best opening numbers in a movie musical ("Back to School Again") and one of the funniest ("Reproduction"), to some of the most banal and silliest lyrics to ever appear in a movie musical ("Who's That Guy?," "Rock-A-Hula Luau"). My favorite number is the Pink Ladies' "Girls For All Seasons" in the Talent Show towards the end. I love all the detail put into this sequence. The costumes really do look like a group of teenage girls in 1961's idea of glamor. Mom says Sharon's March Shamrock costume, for instance, is based around an early 60s Girl Scout uniform - she says it looks exactly like the one she wore as child during the early 60s.

(Mom also swears her sex-ed classes used to get almost as wild as the "Reproduction" number.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Hard Labor Day

First of all, Happy Labor Day to all Americans! I hope you didn't have to work.

My Labor Day didn't start out so bad. It was still cloudy and cool, but it never rained. Had hot oat bran cereal for breakfast and watched cartoons. Went down to Miss Ellie's side of the house to see how she wanted the sticks done tomorrow. She said to just pile them up and let neighbors take care of the rest. It's a really big job. Thanks to the recent storms, there's huge sticks all over the place. I'll do it tomorrow, while the laundry's in the dryer.

I wish I'd stayed with Miss Ellie. Work was a total zoo. There were lines across the aisles, even with half the registers open. I guess that's what happens when it suddenly drops to 75 degrees on Labor Day. There's nothing for anyone to do but shop! Not to mention, most kids are starting school, if not tomorrow, then sometime this week.

It was a royal pain in the rear end. People were cranky. People were annoying. The lines were so long, I panicked and was hard on myself all day. There's a sale on Coke where you have to buy four 12 packs of soda cans and one 6 packs of bottles...but the coupon for the sale doesn't state this clearly. More than three-quarters of the people who did that sale brought five 12 packs, not bothering to read the slightly smaller print that said "must buy bottles and 12 packs." Many people were not happy with that, either. People get so touchy about their soda.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fall's Early This Year

Awoke to a cool, sunny day, in the lower 70s. It's really too cool for this time of year, but it's still appreciated after August's 90-degree heat waves. Spent the morning listening to WOGL's Brunch With the Beatles show. In honor of the remastered re-releases of the 13 original British Beatles albums coming out on Wednesday, they ran a few songs from each of the albums. Though Sgt. Pepper is my favorite album overall, The White Album and Revolver have songs I like, too.

I tried calling Mom, but she was watching Skylar and Collyn. Oh well, I'd call back later. Called Rose and got her answering machine; not a big surprise. Made Dark Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast and spent the rest of the morning working on DVD and video inventories.

Not surprisingly, work was a zoo today. There were lines at every line, and we actually had a lot of them open, for once. Some fairly grouchy customers, too, but no really major problems. There was no relief, but there was enough help by 5:30 for me to leave on time.

Sometime around 4PM, the sun disappeared behind clouds. It dropped into the 60s and became very windy. I had a bit of a rough ride home.

I did finally get a hold of Mom when I got home. She was making dinner for herself. Keefe went home with Anny and her kids and Daddy's out working for the week. Mom claims she and Dad are going to try to work things out, or at least call at truce until they can actually afford a divorce. We'll see how long this lasts after Dad gets home.

She seems to have had a good day with her grandsons. Collyn is old enough to eat solid foods and cruise around in his walker now. He and his older brother Skylar have a little game worked out when they visit Grandma. Skylar will hide behind the pantry door in the kitchen while his brother follows him. When Collyn gets close enough, Sky jumps out and yells "Boo!" Apparently, this makes his brother giggle with delight. That's so cute.

Skylar will be starting kindergarten at Margaret Mace School in North Wildwood next week. I hope it works out. He's not known for getting along with kids in a group setting. Mom says he behaves fine for her, but I know few kids who would misbehave for Mom.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Beautiful Day For A Farm Market

It was a really perfect September day, lower 80s, sunny, and no humidity at all. I'm glad I was able to get up early enough to make my farm market/yard sale run...and the weather was nice enough to bring out some yard sales. I haven't seen any since before I went on vacation.

The Farm Market was packed to the gills. Not surprising, given this is Labor Day Weekend. Many people were probably picking up salad fixings, corn, and vegetables for the grill. Blackberries were gone, but I did buy peaches, carrots, tomatoes, Italian plums, a small green pepper, a cucumber, and zucchini.

As I mentioned, there were a couple of yard sales in Collingswood and Oaklyn this morning. I found some good stuff at a large multi-family sale on Kendall Boulevard in Oaklyn, down the street and around the corner from me. I don't normally buy clothes from yard sales, but I found a really, really nice LL Bean red-and-green sweater in a winter pattern that I loved. I also picked up a video of the Angela Landsbury TV musical Mrs. Santa Claus and a cassette copy of the Bruce Springsteen album Greetings From Asbury Park.

After I got home, I ate an early lunch, packed a snack, changed into my uniform, and headed to work. The Acme was busy, but it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be (I figured the lines would be across the aisles) and we had plenty of help. I guess everyone's waiting for tomorrow or Monday.

Jodie called me on my cell phone while I was on break and asked me if I wanted to come over to Dad's house for dinner. I had no plans for after work other than showing Miss Ellie the dead branch leaning over my porch, so sure!

My landlady Eleanor is a very nice woman, but she's also in her 70s and not able to get around as well as she used to. I help her out as much as I can. She did finally get far enough up the stairs that she saw that the rotted tree limb leaning over my porch is too thick to be clipped and too heavy for even her grandsons to handle. She really is going to have to call help for that one. We were able to fix an outside lightbulb that blew out, though.

Changed and went over to Dad and Uncle Ken's as soon as Miss Ellie was safely inside. Jodie made a huge dinner of barbecue pork ribs on the grill that were so tender, they fell off the bone, roasted potatoes with Uncle Ken's fresh rosemary, grilled asparagus, romaine and cucumber salad, corn, and tiny corn-on-the-cobs from Dad's own corn stalks. They said they originally invited Rose and Jessa as well, but they never appeared. I ate a ton and had a nice chat with Dad and Jodie, and even brought some home for the rest of the weekend.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Summer Magic

Started off the day with hot oat bran cereal and a peach for breakfast, then headed to the Acme for this week's paycheck and grocery shopping. The Acme was busy, but not too bad, considering that we're now officially into Labor Day Weekend. I had a lot of luck with sales (likely also thanks to Labor Day Weekend). Got whole-wheat pasta, Fiber One Yogurt packs and granola bars (had coupons for both), chicken drumsticks, Multi-Grain Cheerios, brown sugar, regular white sugar (the Acme's cheap brand), and a whole-wheat roll for the meatball sandwiches I planned on having tonight.

This time, I went straight home instead of to the mall behind the Acme. Put everything away, then had a quick lunch of yogurt, a granola bar, and a small apple. I've been overstuffing myself lately, and I wasn't really that hungry.

It was still a pretty decent day, a little hotter and more humid than it was this week, but far from unbearable, and cloudy on and off. I decided to go for a long bike ride, my first since before vacation. First stop was the PNC Bank on the White Horse Pike to deposit my paycheck. Not surprisingly, given the nice day, it was dead and I was in and out.

Willie the Woodsman and Wife's, a gift shop in Audubon that carries WebKinz, had mentioned to their e-mail list that they now had the WebKinz Turkey and Lava Dragon. I haven't seen them anywhere else, including the Collingswood Variety Store and FYE. I want a turkey for my Thanksgiving displays...and they're just plain cute besides, with their bright feathers and goofy, endearing expression.

I rode around Audubon a bit after that. Stopped at the Audubon Library to see if it was finally open. The last time I went over there, it was closed for an extended vacation between July 4th and the 19th. Not this time; I had no problems getting in. Like the Oaklyn Library, it's housed in a late 50's-era brick building. It's a little bigger than the Oaklyn Library and generally in better shape, with a brightly painted and fairly extensive children's section. The adult fiction collection is larger than Oaklyn's, but not as large as the Haddon Township Branch Library or the Haddon Heights Library.

Briefly said "hi" to the owner of Desserts By Design, but didn't stick around after that. It was getting hotter by the minute, and I wanted to save some money for the Farm Market tomorrow. I rode over the train bridge and into Oaklyn.

I originally intended to stop at Doria's Deli for a drink, as I was very thirsty by that point, but they were closed for vacation until after Labor Day. Went next-door and got a treat from Leo's Yum-Yum Ice Cream instead. Their signature dish, (called Yum-Yum) is something like a somewhat creamier water ice. I had pina colada. There were no chunks of pineapple and coconut like I was hoping there would be, but it did taste like a real pina colada, up to an including a surprising note of rum. (Likely extract. I hope.)

With not much money left, I just rode home after I finished my Yum-Yum. Spent the rest of the afternoon doing stuff around the apartment, including dusting and doing last month's budget. The dusting didn't take too long. It just wasn't that dusty this month, probably because the windows have been closed for most of it. I had more gunk in the air conditioner than around the house.

I had my dinner of a meatball sandwich on whole-wheat crusty Vienna roll with fried onions and peppers and a salad while watching Summer Magic and enjoying the magic of a soft late-summer evening. A breeze wafted in from the screen door, ruffling my bangs and cooling my forehead.

Mrs. Carey's right. There is something special about a summer's evening. "I feel sorry for city people tonight..."

Oh, and meet my WebKinz Turkey, Plymouth! I may put him outside or start a farm/fall room for him; haven't decided yet.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

End-Of-Summer Balance

Tried the first Thursday 9:30 Yogawood class today. I was one of only two people who did. First of all, the class is brand new. It may not have been well-advertised. Second, many students started school today. The mothers who normally come in the morning were concentrating on getting their kids together for the big day instead. Third, we're coming up on Labor Day weekend, and anyone who isn't going back to school may have already left town or was getting ready to do so. The other woman was an older lady whose youngest child had just gone off to college, and she needed something to take her mind off empty nest feelings.

We mostly worked on standing poses, like Warrior. I'm not bad at Warrior, but sometimes, I just can't seem to get my arms or legs in the right places. They always seem to want to stick out.

Browsed in the library and the Collingswood Variety Store after class let out, then went to the Friends In Deed Thrift Shop to say "hi" to Erica and see if she had anything good. I didn't find anything interesting there, so I headed home. Spent the rest of the morning baking Double Ginger Cookies. I put too much molasses in to make up for being out of brown sugar.

I had time to make a summer vegetable and cheese omelet for lunch after the cookies were done and enjoy the gorgeous weather we're still having. It was a little cloudy this morning, but it cleared nicely by the time I was working on my cookies and was pleasantly in the upper 70s again.

Work was very busy. This was hardly surprising. Not only is it the beginning of the month, but as I mentioned, many kids return to school today, and anyone who isn't preparing for school is getting ready for the Labor Day Weekend. I was in and out with no problems other than a lot of sneezing. My nose has been misbehaving for most of this afternoon, running like crazy no matter how many allergy pills I take.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Meatball Extravaganza

Tina, my meatball recipe is Lady and the Tramp's Spaghetti and Meatballs from The Mickey Mouse Cookbook, with ground turkey and wheat germ in place of ground beef and bread crumbs.
Woman at Work

I was called in around 8:30 and went in at noon. Spent the morning doing what I'd planned on doing anyway, washing the windows, dusting the molding around the windows, and updating my Firefox browser. It was another gorgeous day, sunny and cool. Good for cleaning.

It was a good thing work was steady for most of the day. It's the beginning of the month and there were a few obnoxious customers and a few chop shop people, but there was otherwise no problems, and my relief was on time.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Shine Like the Sun

What a beautiful day! There couldn't be a nicer day, 70 degrees, sunny and breezy, without a cloud in the sky. I couldn't wait to start it. I was up at quarter of 7 and out to do the laundry by 9. Dolores was just eating breakfast when I came in. Dad and Uncle Ken were doing chores. Jessa wasn't home. She left for college last Thursday and is likely enjoying her new-found freedom. I'm glad she's doing well in college, but I'm going to miss seeing her at home all the time. She's a good kid.

I ran to CVS for eggs while the laundry was in the dryer, brought them home, then went back to Uncle Ken's for the laundry. Unlike last week, there were no problems with the laundry, and it was in and out. I said "hi" to Dolores' daughter and her baby girl May, then went home with my laundry basket.

I put everything away, then had a simple lunch of carrot sticks, peanut butter, and light raspberry yogurt. I did a few chores around the house. Made my bed, prepared my rent, left the rent at Miss Ellie's side of the house, then jumped on my bed and headed to Haddon Township for this week's library volunteering session.

The adult DVDs weren't bad, but the kids' DVDs were absolutely awful. Not only were there a ton of them to return, but the new DVD case only seems to have encouraged more people to just shove items wherever they feel like it. I was able to help several children, too. One little girl was looking for princesses. She was thrilled with Little Mermaid 2 and Barbie and the Magic of the Pegasus. Another girl wanted Thomas the Tank Engine.

There weren't as many regular DVDs to put away today, which may have been just as well. It was too nice to spend all day in the library. After a quick stop at Super Fresh for English muffins (they had the $1.99 whole wheat muffins this time), I waited to get across the now-rush-hour traffic on Cuthbert, then headed for the Newton River Park for a nice, long bike ride.

The park was never so gorgeous. The river sparkled like emeralds in the sun. The leaves and grass are still the brightest green imaginable. They're usually at least a little brown by this time of years after months in the hot sun, but all this rain has had some positive results. I've never seen the trees look lovelier. All the moss and bushes in our front yard are still a vibrant shade of green, too. It's like walking through the Emerald City every time I go in my front door. I feel like Dorothy.

After I got in from my ride, I swept the porch. There was a considerable collection of nuts and parts of nuts after the storms last weekend, and I haven't gotten a chance to clean up after them until today. I don't want to encourage ants again.

After I swept, I took advantage of the unusually cool weather to do something I haven't really been able to do for a while at home - bake! I made a Blackberry-Peach Grunt from Alton Brown's I'm Just Here For More Food. The "Grunt" was basically what Betty Crocker calls a cobbler with butter instead of shortening. (Alton does have a cobbler recipe, but it uses pie crust, which I wasn't going to make.) I didn't have enough blackberries, so I added one of those big, fat farm market peaches. Good ol' Alton. It's the best thing I've made in ages, sweet and tender, yet bursting with warm summer flavor. I used to make cobblers a lot in late summer and early fall, using the season fruit after it got cool enough to bake. Cobblers are some of my favorite desserts. Easy to make, and a wonderful way to make use of bruised and/or old fruit.

Also took advantage of the nice weather to make turkey meatballs. I haven't had simple old spaghetti and meatballs in ages. It felt wonderful...a great way to end a lovely day.