Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat For Halloween

Happy Halloween! I started off a cloudy, damp, windy morning with spooky Saturday cartoons. In addition to the classics It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Garfield's Halloween Adventure, I ran a couple of Disney shorts from my Walt Disney Treasures sets.

Many of you have probably seen the 1953 Donald Duck cartoon Trick or Treat. The theme song is quoted in the title of this entry. Far less well known is a more recent Mickey Mouse horror tale, 1995's Runaway Brain. Mickey wants to make money for a vacation with Minnie, but he gets a lot more than he bargained for when a mad scientist manages to switch his brain with the brain of a Frankenstein-like monster!

As Leonard Maltin says in his intro, this is not your father's Mickey Mouse...and not your little sibling's, either. This cartoon is genuinely freaky, from the opening with Mickey playing a video game where Dopey drop-kicks the evil witch to the actual brain-switch. There's some really nice animation, though (like the brain-switch), and I love the Disney in-jokes. (I caught the name of the monster and the mad scientist.)

I dressed as a witch for Halloween this year. A nice witch. I didn't feel like slathering myself with green makeup, and my face is about as scary as a marshmallow. I did wear a little makeup, dark eyeshadow and cherry-red lipstick. I wore my good orange t-shirt, long black ruffled skirt, my black bangle bracelets and beads from the Big E, and the hat I bought from CVS. The hat is really too small and refused to stay on all day, but other than that, I thought the costume looked great. (I wish I'd thought to get a picture of me in it, but I completely forgot my camera. Oh, well.)

Work was utterly insane. It's not normally this crazy on Halloween...but we don't normally have 15,000 things going on besides Halloween, either. Tomorrow is the beginning of the month, and a lot of people either have or will be receiving government funds. At least three Philadelphia pro sports teams have major games this weekend, including the World Series Phillies/Yankees battle. Pearl Jam is playing the last concert ever in the about-to-be-demolished Spectrum stadium. Add numerous parades, hayrides, and festivals to that list, too.

The result of all this activity? We had long lines all day. The popularity of the World Series was proved by how many people showed up in Phillies jerseys and t-shirts, rather than costumes or anything related to Halloween. A few other people did appear in costume, including a hockey player and a girl sailor in a cute hat with an anchor on it. A manager compromised - he wore a Phillies t-shirt...over a huge latex "beer belly" as a typical Philly fan. My witch costume went over really well. Many people complimented me on it, said I was a pretty witch or very cute, which is what I was going for.

I had to do this week's grocery shopping after work. Thank goodness it had thinned out considerably by the time I finished. I needed more than usual, too. I bought two packs of chicken (one legs, one breasts), yogurt, apples, bananas, pears, escarole (it was cheaper than spinach), canned pumpkin for baked goods, and salsa and fajita-sized whole-wheat tortilla wraps for chicken tacos later this week.

Trick-or-treating was extended this year, thanks to Halloween being on a weekend. Oaklyn's trick-or-treating lasted from 12:30 to 6:30, giving me plenty of time to go home, put my groceries away, take off my work pants (which I wore to ride to and from work), change back into the skirt, freshen up my make-up, and head over to my dad and uncle's house to help them give out candy.

Dad claimed they don't usually get too many kids. They live on a dead-end street fairly far off the main road. I thought we did pretty good, though. There were some really cute costumes. I saw one group dressed as Biblical characters giving out papers with religious messages and candy corn. There were soldiers, a mini-Hiawatha and his Laughing Water mama, a black fairy or butterfly, Belle from the Disney Beauty and the Beast, a very pretty angel, a Transformer, Spider Man, a cute little lion, Elmo, at least three Cinderellas, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, a train conductor, a ghoul and his little skeleton brother, cowboys and cowgirls, several pirates of both genders, an Adam West-era Batman, a devil, Michael Jackson, and a whole platoon of pixies in huge neon tutus that Madonna would have loved in the 80s. Dolores' 2-year-old granddaughter May and her parents showed up dressed as bees in puffy, hot, home-made yellow-and-black costumes, complete with a big cloth "hive" in May's wagon.

The clouds that had hung around all day finally burst around quarter of 5. I waited around a little longer to see if any kids braved the rain, but the wind had picked up and it was getting much colder. I just said good-bye to Dad and Jodie (who were watching the 1942 Cat People on TCM) and walked home.

I spent the rest of the night watching Mad Monster Party? and more cartoons and baking Pumpkin Loaf Cake from the low-fat dessert cookbook. Runaway Brain was far from Mickey's first encounter with the darker side of Disney. He'd appeared in two spooky shorts in the late 20s and early 30s. Haunted House is something like Skeleton Dance with Mickey providing the music, but it does have its charms, including some literal outhouse humor. Mad Doctor from 1933 is much better. Mickey pursues the dognapped Pluto through a dungeon of horrors run by the really scary scientist of the title. He's attacked by skeletons and scary bats and wanders through hallways in a couple of neat shots.

If there's one thing I do appreciate, it's how much children's store-bought costumes have improved over the years. When I was a kid, a cheap kid's costume meant a printed plastic smock with a scratchy, sharp-edged mask that probably restricted a lot of their sight. As much as I wish they did, not everyone has the time or the skill that my mom does to make costumes for their children. At the very least, most of the costumes are made from fabric, and if there's a mask, it's small or made from more flexible material. Some of those store-bought costumes I saw today admittedly looked quite nice. The angel and black fairy getups were stunning.

Right now, I'm listening to the Original London Cast of The Phantom of the Opera, as I've done every Halloween night since high school. Whether you're at home like me or off to a party or sporting event, I hope all of you had a wonderful Halloween. For those of you who won't be around, enjoy this spooky weekend!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Balance

Started off today with a yoga class. I'd thought of doing it Wednesday, but it was raining that morning. Not today. Today was chilly and on-and-off clouds, but no rain. The class wasn't nearly as busy as I thought it would be. I figured everyone would come in today, since there's a lot of things going on this weekend, but there was only 11 people, counting the teacher Micki.

We mostly worked on standing poses and on breathing techniques. Thank goodness my nose was working fine this morning. As for the standing...well, I'm getting better, but I still can't hold my balance for that long. Can't lean on my shoulders for very long, either.

Headed over to the thrift shop after that to say "hi" to my friend Erica and browse around. I found two cute, tiny porcelain bears dressed for fall holidays - one in a witch's hat, one in a Native American's headband. I also picked up a tall Thanksgiving turkey-and-pumpkin wood-look decoration.

Rode home after that, making a brief stop at Doria's Deli on West Clinton Avenue for turkey. I had a lot of chores I wanted to do this afternoon before work. I made the bed. (I only make the bed every couple of weeks. Who's gonna see it? Not to mention, I have at least 30 stuffed animals to load onto it.) I dusted the window treatments and blinds. I vacuumed. I made a turkey sandwich for lunch with the last of the home-made buttermilk rye bread.

Other than I had a somewhat difficult time riding to work, thanks to traffic on narrow Kendall Boulevard and a broken-down bus near the Oaklyn ramp, work went just fine tonight. It was steady, with no major problems. My schedule's much better this week, too. Fewer hours, but not that much fewer, two days off (one is a counseling day), nothing later than 8PM.

Oh, and Mrs. Doria said that trick-or-treating in Oaklyn starts extra-early tomorrow, thanks to Halloween being on a Saturday this year. The kids here will be out between 12:30 and 6:30. In a way, that makes sense. With the kids off, they can get it done during the daytime, and the littlest candy-lovers can get their goodies before the sun goes down.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"The Falling Leaves Drift By My Window..."

Today was my early work day, 9-2. It was surprisingly steady for a day in the middle of the week and the end of the month. Some people must have gotten their money early. It was much busier than when I worked this early last Tuesday. People were in a somewhat better mood, too. Maybe it had to do with the weather. Though it was cloudy and damp all day, it never rained.

People had some great stories. One older fellow talked about doing carpentry and mechanics work for RCA's Camden broadcast division before they were purchased by GE and shut down in the mid-80s. Turns out the father of the woman behind him had worked for RCA as well, and she still had several collectible items with the little "His Master's Voice" dogs listening to the phonograph on them. The man was wearing an old red "His Master's Voice" jacket. (And yes, I know what the dogs are listening to, and it's not an over-sized hearing aid.)

I bought sugar after work (the sugar container was low), then went straight home. Miss Ellie asked me yesterday if I could clear out more acorns from in front of her side of the house, which I did. After that, I swept my porch as best I could. My porch is still pretty wet. I couldn't get all the leaves off, but it looks much better than it did.

Spent the rest of the evening in the kitchen. My cookie jar was empty again. I began a dough for roll-out gingersnaps before I did my outdoor chores. When I finished, the dough was nice and firm and ready to be flattened and cut into shapes. I used the small American Girl cutters. The star cookies burned too easily, but the circle, half-moon, heart, and gingerbread man shapes mostly came out nicely. (A few browned too much around the edges; that's what I get for not paying attention.)

After I finally finished the gingersnaps, I made myself a nice dinner of pan-fried Rosemary Chicken Breasts, mashed turnips with brown sugar, and a spinach salad. Watched the first Ghostbusters movie and the two horror-oriented episodes of The Muppet Show with Vincent Price and Alice Cooper while I baked and ate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fightin' Phils

It was raining again when I originally woke up this morning. I was going to do Yogawood, but not in a downpour. I slept in instead. It was still raining when I finally dragged myself out of bed around 10:30, but the rain gradually stopped. It was just cloudy and damp when I started cleaning the kitchen. By the time I was baking a Pumpkin-Apple Spice Cake, the sun was even trying to break out.

Work was surprisingly steady, given the weather and the fact that this is the middle of the week and the end of the month. I'm assuming everyone was stocking up for the first World Series game between the Phillies and the Yankees tonight. This was confirmed when it cleared around around 7:30 and was stone-cold dead for my last hour or so at work.

Oh, and speaking of the World Series, at press time, the Phillies are up by two in the middle of the 7th inning.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Washing the Dirt Away

Not for the first time this year, I awoke to pouring rain. I read and wrote in my journal in bed for a little while, then had breakfast and watched a few horror-oriented action TV show episodes from DVDs. "Seance of Terror," from the second season of Wonder Woman, involved the First Superheroine aiding a child with telekinetic powers who is being used by his guardians to con a group of diplomats. "The Beast in Black," from The Greatest American Hero's second season, pits super suit-wearing Ralph Hinkley against a beast from another dimension and the ghost of a crooked real estate developer who has possessed the body of his FBI agent partner.

Cleaned the bathroom between episodes. The bathroom was awful. There was this black gunk in the sink (is it from my mouthwash?), and the tub was really scummy. I did some good scrubbing in there today while listening to my generic "Halloween Party Music" cassette that features so-so covers of spooky songs and the soundtrack to Ghostbusters I found at a yard sale a few weeks ago.

It stopped raining long enough for me to run to WaWa for milk. It wasn't even windy or cold, just damp. I don't think the trees are as spectacular as last year, but they are finally starting to look pretty here, their leaves fading to shades of red, gold, rust, and orange.

Of course, the rain waited until I got home and was getting ready for work to start again. I didn't have the time to call for a ride, so I just rode my bike to work. It wasn't raining too hard. I got a little wet, but I wasn't soaked.

Work was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday with some very lousy weather. Other than my break was late, I got in and out on time and there were no real problems.

Finally got a hold of Mom when I got home, put the unbleached and whole wheat flour and cans of low-fat and low-salt condensed cream of chicken and mushroom soups away, and got out of the shower. She was fine. Sore from stocking shelves at Michael's all day, but otherwise fine. They don't have four or five stock boys running around who do that stuff.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Countdown to Halloween

I spent the morning of my only morning off this week doing the laundry. There wasn't really a lot to do. I ran to CVS while the laundry was in the dryer. Picked up shampoo (I'm almost out) and a cute little stand-up wood jack-o-lantern, his face colored in black glitter. I love end-of-the-holiday-season sales.

Uncle Ken was the only one around before I left for CVS. By the time I got back, Dad was home, too. I asked him if he and Uncle Ken had any plans for Halloween night. He said not really...but I could help them distribute trick-or-treat candy, if I wanted to. Sure! I haven't done anything Halloween night but work in at least six or seven years, and I've never given out candy to the kids here. They supposedly don't get many trick-or-treaters, due to their out-of-the-way location on a dead-end street, but what the heck, it'll still beat sitting around in my apartment, watching Charlie Brown and mildly spooky movies.

Headed home with my laundry after talking to Dad. I quickly put the laundry away, had a short peanut butter-and-apple butter-on-home-made-bread lunch, then jumped on my bike and rode over to the Haddon Township Library for this week's session. I debated doing it later in the week, but I'd really rather get it done while I have the time and don't have to worry about running to work later. There were piles of DVDs this week, and I mostly organized them. Also returned Easy Reader children's books. I debated taking a couple of items out, but ultimately decided I wouldn't have the time to watch them this week and didn't take rent anything.

Made a couple of stops at the Westmont Plaza on the way home. The Halloween items are already on major markdowns at JoAnn's, but I didn't see anything I liked. Bought leeks at Super Fresh (I forgot them at the farm market last Saturday and the Acme didn't have them) and a bag of sponges at Dollar Tree.

(I'm kind of disappointed that Halloween Adventure hasn't appeared in it's usual spot in the old swing set store this year. I'm assuming they either found somewhere bigger for it, or didn't have the money to open it at all. The latter wouldn't be terribly surprising. A lot of people just don't have the money to be buying a ton of fancy holiday anything right now.)

Spent the rest of the evening baking and cooking. I made two nice little loaves of Wheat Germ Bread from the Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Bread. The loaves came out nice and nutty and crusty, and just the right size. A lot of bread recipes make too much for me. I either have to toss the extra in the freezer or give a quarter of stale bread to my fuzzy squirrel "neighbors." These are just the right size. (It originally called for them to be in loaf pans, but I only have one. The round loaves on the cookie pan came out just fine.)

The chicken breasts I pulled out for dinner hadn't defrosted by dinnertime, so I improvised with pantry goods instead. The Mickey Mouse Cookbook has a recipe for "Thumper's Tuna-Noodle Casserole." I updated it a bit. Used Healthy Choice Cream of Chicken Soup instead of regular Cream of Mushroom. Eliminated the milk (mostly because I'm almost out) and replaced the can of peas with fresh carrots, mushrooms, and leeks. The green pepper called for remained, and I added red pepper, too. Used whole-wheat spiral pasta for the noodles, and added some Parmesan cheese on top.

I'm 2 for 2 with cooking and baking tonight. The casserole is really delicious, filled with yummy veggie-and-fish flavor.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Helter Skelter

Finally awoke to a bright, sunny, clear morning. I poked my head out my door and discovered that the humidity and clouds were gone and it felt a lot more like fall. I made Sweet Potato-Whole Wheat Pancakes for breakfast and listened to the Brunch With the Beatles show. One of my favorite Beatles albums, the self-titled "White Album," was in the spotlight today.

I really wish I could have stayed at home. Work was an utter and complete pain in the rear end. It was busy all day long, and we had several call-outs and not nearly enough help to handle the lines. The morning managers begged me to stay longer, but I opted for an hour. I actually wanted time to eat dinner and take a shower.

The long lines made for very cranky customers. One older woman kept complaining about how she didn't want to come to a supermarket in the first place and why did the man with her buy this and that, and where were the baggers and why did she have to do everything? I really wanted to ask her why she came with her son to the supermarket in the first place if she hates supermarkets. Why go somewhere you don't like if you don't have to? Did she think she couldn't trust him to go alone?

I am so, so glad tomorrow is my only day off this week. I really don't want to go back to work after today. I have no idea why it was so busy; the nice weather, I guess. There's no sports events on today. The Eagles play tomorrow, and the Phillies don't start in the World Series until Wednesday. Halloween is next weekend, and so's the beginning of the month.

Came home as quick as I could when I finally got out. Made an omelet with farm market vegetables and Colby cheese and sweet potato hash browns for dinner and watched Across the Universe.

Universe is the very strange story of a young man from Liverpool who goes to the US in search of his birth father and finds himself caught up in the major changes and protests of the late 60s in New York. He befriends a college drop-out and falls for his sister...but their different political beliefs separate them when her brother goes to war and she wants to join the anti-war movement.

The use of music and incredible visuals make up for what's really a ho-hum plot. There's a lot of literal and figurative "tripping" here, with wild colors and heavy use of the psychadelic era. The music tends to overwhelm the plot, making it almost like a revue.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bountiful Harvest

I spent most of last night sniffling. My nose decided to get clogged up again early yesterday evening, and stayed that way all night. Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well at all.

Whether I slept well or not, I had to get up and run the usual Saturday chores, especially since I work early next week. It was cloudy, warm, and humid when I finally dragged myself out of bed, but not raining. I made it to the bank without incident and was in and out.

It started to rain a little when I was at the Farm Market. There were more booths and people in the parking lot than last week, but still not as many as usual. I ended up with carrots, red and green peppers, pears, little red apples, two heads of bok choy, the first New Jersey broccoli of the season, honey, turnips, and a nice medium-sized pumpkin for the living room table.

The rain picked up a bit as I rode back to Oaklyn, but it disappeared as I arrived home. I put my farm market finds away, and settled down to do stuff on the computer and watch movies until it was time for work.

Or so I thought...until I was called in around 11. They wanted me in "as soon as possible," but I still needed to change into my uniform and make lunch. I didn't get there until 12:30.

It was a really good thing I went in early. I was originally supposed to have been in at 2...and by then, it was absolutely cats-and-dogs-and-bears POURING. Just coming down and down. I would either have been drenched in that mess or ended up needing to call for a ride. As it was, my ride to and from work was wet, windy, and a bit of a pain in the rear.

Work was a pain in the rear, too. It was really, really busy, and we were once again short on help, this time due to call-outs. Crabby customers (and some crabby employees) did not help.

I had a lot of shopping to do and was very grateful when my relief showed up early. I found some good sales, including Yoplait Light Yogurt, small beef shoulder cuts, brown sugar, canola oil, jasmine green tea, fish fillets, granola bars, and things to make a pudding pie.

I just barely made it in the door when it started thundering and lighting and pouring again! I'm glad I got home when I did. Just another few seconds, and I would have been drenched!

Now, for a slice of Pumpkin Spice Pudding Pie...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Emma at Home

As I mentioned above, I spent the day at home, mostly doing job research. This time, I actually did research. I went through a couple of NJ Employment websites. Posted a resume on the official state employment site. I don't know if it'll help, but it's something. I have yet to receive a legit job offer online. They're always mass mailings for some random insurance or human relations office that has nothing to do with what I'm interested in.

It was relatively sunny when I got up this morning, but the sun disappeared relatively early. I found myself walking into a cloudy, damp, cool day when I went out for a quick stroll around 2:30-quarter of 3. I found myself dodging kids coming out of the Oaklyn Public School as it finished for the day.

It started sprinkling lightly as I jumped on my bike and headed for work. It must have rained while I was in there; the streets were wet when I came out. Thankfully, I got home dry, though.

Work was a pain in the rear. We didn't have enough help. There weren't even any call-outs. They just hadn't scheduled enough people to work the front end. Thankfully, by the end of the night, it had slowed down enough for me to spend the last hour of my shift doing returns.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thoroughly Modern Balance

Did Yogawood this morning. Eric traded classes with Karin today, as the latter had to attend a funeral. There were 9 people there, including Eric, not bad for the still-sparsely-attended Thursday class. The emphasis today, as it often is with Eric, was on standing poses and inversions. I can more-or-less do standing poses now like the tree pose. I still cannot stand on my head. I don't know if my shoulders aren't up to it or I just don't trust myself.

Stopped at the Dollar General store on my way to the library. I was hoping they'd have Christmas DVDs or videos, like they did last October. No luck this time. Unlike last year, they just had out their Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, which is really as it should be at this time of the year. I bought ground cloves from there and garlic powder from the CVS next door and moved on.

My next stop was the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteer session. I just returned DVDs today, childrens' and adult's. Didn't take out any books, but I did rent the odd musical based around the Beatles catalogue Across the Universe and the newest Barbie direct-to-video special, Barbie as the Three Musketeers.

Stopped quickly at Super Fresh, then headed to the White Horse Pike for lunch. I wanted to try somewhere I hadn't been before. I opted for Capitol Pizza, two blocks down from my usual PNC Bank branch. Capitol Pizza is a small, basic local pizzeria that probably hasn't changed much since the early 80s. Two arcade machines, one a collection of classic 80s video games like Pac Man and Galaxian, another the usual touch-game console seen in semi-fine bars and diners everywhere, stood in the back. A tile mural along the counter depicted the Capitol building. I ordered a delicious turkey-bacon wrap and enjoyed the greasy ambiance (and ignored the wails of Fox News over the video consoles).

The sun had come out even before I hit the library. I rode home in absolutely gorgeous weather. It was too nice to stay inside all afternoon. I did some job research on the computer, then watched Barbie as the Three Musketeers and headed outside for a walk. Walked down Manor Avenue and around to the Oaklyn Lions Park and the playground behind the Oaklyn Public School. It was a gorgeous day for a long walk. There were lots of other people around. Adults chatted with their neighbors, raked their yards, rode bikes with their children, and walked their dogs. Young kids hopped on bikes or scooters, wrestled or chased each other in the playground, or ran around their yards; teenagers walked home from school together, many dressed for fall sports like field hockey or soccer.

I don't normally bother with the Barbie spring and fall DVD-only CGI specials. I did rent Barbie and the Nutcracker after it came out, but I wasn't impressed. I never tried another one...until today. Barbie and the Three Musketeers starts off fairly well with a surprisingly accurate condensed version of the first few chapters of the book. (Even the antics of the cat, dog, and horse aren't that far removed from the original - they're probably the kid-ized replacements for the book's comic-relief lackeys.) It veers off-course half-way through, but the story is still fairly interesting and a very nice change from Barbie's perpetual princesses. The modern music doesn't really fit the swashbuckling story, but it's fairly well-written for this sort of thing.

Swapped Barbie for Thoroughly Modern Millie as I made Beef and Cranberry Bean Soup for dinner. Millie is one strange musical. A spoof of all things Roaring 20s, Millie is the tale of the title character, a lass from the English countryside who has come to New York to become a stenographer and marry her handsome but rather stiff boss. She runs afoul of a naive fellow "working girl" who wants to become an actress, a goofy paper clip salesman who likes her and won't take "no" for an answer, a nutty millionairess who's crazy about parties and dancing teachers, and the owner of her boarding house who is carting off girls for a white slave ring.

Yes, it's all as daffy as it sounds, but if you can get all the way through, it's great fun with some sensational music. Julie Andrews is the very modern Millie, Mary Tyler Moore is her sweet feminine best friend, Carol Channing is the loony rich lady, and Beatrice Lille (in one of her last roles) is the slave ring operator with a thing for Asians.

Two warnings - first of all, like many musicals of the 60s and early 70s, this movie is really long. Frankly, it's much longer than it should be, and the middle and end do drag. Second, there's some rather goofy Asian stereotypes shown off here (though Asians are seen in both heroic and villainous roles). Explain to your kids that they would have been commonplace in the 20s and a little obnoxious but part of the fun of the era in the 60s.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Indian Summer

The temperatures soared into the lower 70s today. It was great weather to finish the raking. I started with as much of the patch of yard next to Miss Ellie's car as I could get in. There's a lot of brush around that area that I just can't penetrate with a rake. I then did the side path, which was bad but not very long. It never takes me more than an hour to do both.

I didn't really do much for the rest of the day. I made scrambled eggs with farm market Colby cheese and vegetables for lunch. I baked brownies. I tried to go online, but it's running really slow, for some odd reason. I must have pushed a weird button or something. The light on the modem is blinking the way it should be, but it keeps taking forever.

I wish I wasn't so lazy. I get so distracted when I go online! Half the time, I don't get to the things I'm supposed to do, like job research and e-mailing every job I can, because I'm too busy looking up other, non-job-related stuff and reading silly junk. I wish I were smarter. Then I'd be able to focus and find a real job.

Work was boring. Steady all night, no major problems. Cleared out after the big Phillies game started. (And no wonder - at press time, the bottom of the 6th inning, the Phillies are up 6-3 over the LA Dodgers. If the Phils win, they're heading to the World Series for the second time in the row.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sometimes You Feel Like An Acorn...

Started off today with work. I worked 9-1 today, which are really some of the best hours you can get. It started off quiet. In fact, I spent most of the first two-two and a half hours organizing candy. It picked up a little around 11, but never became really, really busy.

And no wonder. It was gorgeous today, sunny, windless, and in the lower 60s, warmer than it has been but still a mite cool for this time of year. I bought some of the Acme's cholesterol-free/vegetarian fed chicken eggs, which were on sale, and then headed home. It felt so nice to be riding home in sunlight! It's usually night by the time I get done.

(Why don't I work more often in the morning? I don't have the seniority at this store. I've worked at three different Acmes since I started in North Cape May in 1999. I've only been with this store for four years.)

After I came home, I had a quick lunch (carrots, yogurt, and a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin), changed out of work clothes, and went back outside. I wanted to get as much raking done as I could before I lost the light. I got two hours' worth in and finished the entire front yard but the patch of lawn next to the driveway and the side path leading to my apartment. This was a bigger deal than usual, thanks to the gigantic acorns that have been falling this season. I've never seen acorns this big before! Some of them are at least as big as ping-pong balls. They made the tarp I carry the leaves in very heavy.

Spent the rest of the evening messing around on the computer. I'll finish the raking on the side path and the front yard tomorrow morning. (I don't work until 3:30.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beautiful Days of Autumn

After a long, dreary weekend of nor'easters, I was thrilled to awaken to a gorgeous, sunny late-morning. It was the perfect fall morning, 55 degrees and only a little breezy. I had Life cereal for breakfast/brunch, then went over to Uncle Ken's. Dad's still in Florida, but Uncle Ken and Dolores were there, babysitting her tiny toddler granddaughter May. I played with Dolores and May for a while. After the laundry was out of the washer, I tossed it in the dryer and went for a walk.

Went for a walk to WaWa for milk. It was a wonderful day for it. This must be Mother Nature's way of making up for the lousy weather this weekend. The leaves here are just starting to turn colors, beautiful shades of gold, yellow, red, rust, and brown. Sunlight filtered through the trees on my porch, making the whole world glitter like a fairy's magic wand.

Had a quick yogurt/granola/apple lunch after I got home, then went back to Uncle Ken's for my laundry. After I finished putting that away, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing stuff around the house I'd been meaning to do, both outside and in. I cut up an old t-shirt I've had since high school for dust rags. I picked up sticks in the side and front yards for Miss Ellie. I swept my porch. I made pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.

The Acme called me while I was making braised cubed steaks for dinner. Did I want to work 9AM to 1PM tomorrow. No problem! I was going to volunteer at the library and continue to work on the yard tomorrow. I'll do the library on Thursday, and I can still get lots of raking in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sports Night In Philadelphia

I slept later than planned and had to rush my breakfast of Pear-Whole Wheat Pancakes...and even then, I was STILL almost late to work! I'm just not used to going in at 11:45, instead of on the hour or the half-hour. Really throws me off. I didn't even have time to call Mom or do the dishes.

Other than that, work was just fine. It was very, very busy for most of the day. If people weren't getting ready for the Eagles game at 4:30, they were getting ready for tonight's Phillies game. Other than my relief was late, I had no major problems. My ride to and from work was cold, cloudy, and windy, but the rain seems to be gone for now. I don't think it's rained since late last night.

Uncle Ken and Dad don't usually do parties for late games, and Dad's in Florida anyway. I listened to the Eagles game on the record player's radio at the apartment. I almost wish I hadn't. The Eagles played terrible and lost to the not-much-better Raiders, 13-9. Giants fans can't be happy, either. They had their first loss of the year to the red-hot New Orleans Saints, 48-27.

(At the very least, the Phillies are winning in the third inning at press time. Let's hope they keep doing that.)

I spent the rest of the evening having braised cabbage and leeks, mashed sweet potatoes, and the last chicken leg for dinner. After dinner, I used the bones from the chicken legs to make chicken stock. I jumped in the shower while the stock was boiling.

Finally got through to Mom after the game was over. She was in a surprisingly good mood for such a bad game. Other than she's not happy with her job at Michael's, she's fine. Anny's feeling better now that she's settled in and has figured out visitation rights for her younger son with her ex-boyfriend.

Oh, and I finished Get Smart: Season 4 this morning. There were some really good ones in this last batch. My favorites were "Leadside," the delightful spoof of the 60s detective show "Ironside," and the hilarious two-part spoof "The Not-So-Great Escape," with Max first trying to rescue a group of Control agents who have been captured by Kaos, then lead them to freedom when he ends up in their number.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Come back when I don't have so much to do! I awoke to the height of the two nor'easters attacking the east coast this morning. I'd wanted to get an early start to the farm market, but there was no way I was doing that in the pouring rain. I slept until 9:30 instead and read Swing in bed. Thankfully, it let up by 10:30, which gave me the time to run to the farm market, and then to the bank.

Good thing I didn't need much at the farm market, anyway. It was extremely quiet for the farm market. The only booths who braved the weather were the vegetable booths, the flower stalls, the dairy and meat booth, the mushroom growers, the organic booth, and the orchard booth. I bought small Gala apples, pears (peaches seem to be done for the season), a cucumber, apple butter, and a kind of string bean called Cranberry Beans. They were cream-colored beans splashed with cranberry red. The farmer who sold them to me said to par-boil them, then use them in soups or stews. Cool. I have tons of home-made chicken stock. This might not be a bad soup week.

Spent the rest of the morning at home, finishing Swing and messing around online, with a chicken leg and spinach salad for lunch. The rain was light enough by 2PM for me to ride to work with no problems.

Work was surprisingly busy, given the lousy weather, right up until about 6PM. I found out why it had cleared out when I finished my shift at 6:30. It was raining again, and pretty hard this time, too. Good thing I wasn't going far. I had two slices of pizza at Tu Se Bella's in the Audubon Crossings mall, then went back to the Acme to do this week's grocery shopping.

Didn't need much at the Acme, either. I just ran out of allergy medicine, so I got more of that. Got chicken for the soup, vanilla extract, yogurt, and Nature Valley Nut Clusters (nuggets of nuts and granola). I only bought the last because they were on sale and I had a coupon. I love nuts, especially almonds and pecans, but they're so expensive!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rainy Day Blues

I spent much of this morning refilling the cookie jar and watching Get Smart. Made Lemonade Cookies from the low-fat baking cookbook I bought yesterday. Larrabee, the chief's right-hand man who is almost as incompetent as Max, joins the crew in the mid-4th season. This is also when Max and 99 finally tie the knot. "With Love and Twitches," the wedding episode, is cute (especially the fight right before the wedding and the car chase), but some of the episodes afterwards are a great deal of fun, too. My favorites were "Hooray for Hollywood" (Max's "acting" was hilarious), and "The Day They Raided the Knights." (You've never lived until you've seen Larrabee and the Chief in drag.)

Ran to the Oaklyn Post Office early in the afternoon to send Lauren her birthday present. It was still raining, gloomy, and cold, but it wasn't raining that hard. It still wasn't later on, so I opted for taking the bike to work instead of begging a ride this time.

I got some bad news at work. My schedule for next week is lousy, only 18.75 hours, and Wednesday is until 9:30. I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't pick up hours next week. I will get a little money from raking, but that's not going to pay my rent.

Work was a bit of a pain tonight in other ways. The nasty weather (and the Phillies losing to the Dodgers) made quite a few people cranky. The head front end manager was training new cashiers as well, and I spent an hour putting things away and doing random chores while they worked. What I don't understand is, if they can't afford to give the cashiers they already have more hours, why are they adding new ones?

(They're even cutting back on store hours. We're now opened 7-11 on weekdays. Same 7-10 on Sundays. Frankly, I don't know why we were opened until midnight anyway. It's rarely busy that late. The Wildwood Acme is only opened until 9 at this time of year, which seems a lot more sensible to me.)

Oh, and I bought a package of Betty Crocker's Pumpkin Spice Cookies mix. I don't usually use the cookie mixes (and I haven't been using any kind of baking mixes as often lately), but I love spice cookies, pumpkin, and limited edition holiday flavors. I baked them as bar cookies tonight. They came out very moist and flavorful.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Raining Balance

It was merely cloudy when I rode out to Yogawood this morning for this week's class. There were ten people in class, including the teacher Karin. We worked on stretching and twisting today. Other than a few bobbles in the Warrior poses, there wasn't anything too complicated.

Karin mentioned it had started raining during class. It was still coming down when I got out. I went a block over to the Collingswood Variety Store to see if they had any witch's hats. Yes, they did, but they were all way too small for me. I was hoping the rain would let up, but it never did. I just headed back for Oaklyn and got wet.

Stopped at the CVS on the border of Oaklyn and Collingswood on the way home to see if they had any hats. Yes, they did, and they were the right size this time, too. As you may have guessed, I'm going to be a witch for Halloween. A nice witch; I have no desire to slather on green makeup and fake warts for a costume I'm probably only going to wear once or twice, and I don't really look like a mean witch, anyway. I look like a chipmunk.

It continued to rain for the rest of the afternoon. It was still raining around 1PM. I ended up calling Dad for a ride to work, something I generally avoid doing unless the weather is really terrible. Not only was it raining, but it was windy and very cold, probably only in the 40s-lower 50s.

Work was surprisingly steady for such a dreary day. I didn't think anyone would want to run around in this weather, but today is the last day of our sales, and I guess a lot of people didn't feel like going too many other places.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some Call It Cold

Started out sunny today as I headed for the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteer session. There wasn't a whole lot to do today. I put away some DVDs and children's books. Returned five books (including Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds, which I finished a few days ago) and the DVDs. Took out four more - another book on job hunting, that cookbook with light baked goods recipes I took out in the spring and loved, the next Blackbird Sisters novel, Some Like It Lethal, and the newest Maisie Dobbs novel, Among the Mad. (I've been looking for the latter for ages, since it came out last winter.)

I emerged into what had become a cold, cloudy, windy day. It couldn't be more than the upper 50s, really too cold for this time of year. (And it's supposed to get worse starting tomorrow, with rain and temperatures in the 40s. I wanted it to be a nice, fairly cool fall, but this feels like we're skipping Halloween and going straight to Thanksgiving. I'm not ready yet!)

Stopped at Dollar Tree after leaving the library. I was hoping they'd have an inexpensive witch's hat, but no dice. They had cowboy hats and pirate hats, but no witches hats. In fact, their Halloween aisles alternated with Christmas decorations. That's ridiculous. It's really too early for THAT. I bought soap and moved on.

Had lunch at the little bagel shop in the same shopping center, between Friendly's and the Game Stop. The place was packed when I walked in around lunchtime! Groups of students from the Catholic high school down the street joined older couples in the booths. The lady behind the counter told me when I paid that the kids got out of school early for their PSATs today. I had a delicious (and lively) roast beef and provolone on a whole wheat bagel with pickles and French fries. (I also discovered why the bagel shop is never opened when I'm there. The open at 5:30AM and close at 3PM. I'm usually done in the library well after 3PM.)

Rode home after lunch. Miss Ellie called me while I was doing research on my computer and reminded me that she owed me money for picking up sticks for her. I reminded her that I need to get started on raking soon, too. Trouble is, we have a ton of acorns right now, and the people who pick up the leaves aren't going to want them.

I picked up my money from Miss Ellie, then ran to work. Work was surprisingly steady for a Wednesday in the middle of the month, with no major problems.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Different Kinds of Misfits

Slept in really late this morning, which didn't leave me time for much besides doing a little job research. I saw a job at the University of the Arts on South Broad Street in Philly that might be worth considering, but other than that, it's not going very well. I wish someone needed a writer, or an editor, or someone to edit something. I wish I knew what people wanted at all here.

Work was steady during the usual 4-6 rush hour, but mostly dead. I picked up some hours on Thursday when a manager who was also going to work as a cashier this week called out sick for the next couple of weeks. My relief was on time, and other than it being very windy, I had no problems getting to or from home.

I watched The Misfits during and after dinner. This stark black and white western drama was the last film for Hollywood legends Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable and one of the last for Montgomery Clift. A Reno divorcee who is disillusioned with men joins up with a group of aging cowboys and rodeo riders hoping to go after one last, small herd of wild Mustangs and sell them for dog food. The divorcee can't stand to see anything hurt, and her desire for freedom - theirs and her own - makes the men around her rethink their lifestyles.

As someone who's been a misfit for most of her life (and isn't really a fan of Gable or Monroe), I was quite impressed. Monroe and Gable did especially well as the older cowboy and unhappy woman looking for a place they can fit in. I've been doing that all my life. Eli Wallach was also good as a mechanic haunted by his wife's death and his involvement in World War II. Director John Huston's work was a bit dull in the beginning, but he kicked it up several notches with the capture of the wild horses on the salt flats in the finale.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Old Cold-Columbus-Day-Laundry Trick

First of all, Happy Columbus Day to all Americans, and Happy Thanksgiving to you Canadians who get your turkey early.

Second, I started my rare holiday off by sleeping in. Headed to Uncle Ken's for this week's laundry session after breakfast. Dad was still in Cape May, but Dolores and Uncle Ken were around for much of the day, babysitting her grandson Blake.

I went for a short walk around the neighborhood while the laundry in the dryer. It was an unusually cold and cloudy day for mid-October. Not cold enough for snow yet, but cold enough. Some houses were brightly decorated with Halloween decorations, but most had just settled on mums, banners, and the last of the roses. (I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people can't afford fancy exterior decorations this year.)

My laundry took a while, but I finally got home around quarter of 2. I had a quick yogurt and fruit lunch, and then went back out. Rode over to the Audubon Crossings shopping center behind the Acme. I hit FYE first. I promised Lauren I'd get her a WebKinz Blue Jay for her birthday, and I got another friend a birthday present as well. I also grabbed Get Smart: Season 4.

My next stop was Wal Mart. I'm thinking of being a witch for Halloween. It's the only thing I really have time to put together. I'll be a nice witch, though...which means I don't mind wearing a pointy hat but have no desire to slather myself with green makeup. I wanted to find a witch's hat, but the only ones Wal Mart had were fancy ones covered in stars or feathers and flowers...and they cost between 8 and 10 dollars, ridiculous prices for a hat that I'd wear once or twice around Halloween and stash in the back room the rest of the year. I'll check the Dollar Tree the next time I'm in Westmont.

Made quick stops at Staples (wanted to see if they had cheap flash drives - nope) and the Acme (for lemon juice and the Quaker Cereal sale), then rode home. Spent the rest of the evening working on inventory and watching Get Smart episodes. Favorite by far was the season opener when Max gets engaged to 99. That was so sweet.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Magic Bars and Real Strawberry Ice Cream

I was up around 8, surprisingly early for a Sunday. I don't usually get up until 10 or later on Sundays. I wrote in my journal and finished Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds, enjoying the cool, sunny day under my covers.

After I finally kicked myself out of bed, I ran my old Make Believe Ballroom (instrumental 20s jazz numbers) cassette and made Whole Wheat-Dark Chocolate Chip Pancakes for my special Sunday breakfast. I'd finished eating by the time the WOGL Beatles show was on. Grabbed my cell phone and called Mom as Bob Charger announced that today's theme was "The Beatles in 1966."

Mom herself seemed to be in a very good mood. She's heard from my sister Rose twice since last Sunday. Rose is feeling nauseous a lot...which is to say, other than major morning sickness, she's just fine. (She also mentioned Rose had asked for her recipe for the "magic bars" blondies she used to make for family parties, for reasons I discovered later.)

My other sister Anny is NOT fine. Mom says she's been really feeling sick...and SHE'S not pregnant. She just moved, her son had to change schools, her other son was sick, she had a court battle over her younger son with his father, and she's been working while moving. Not to mention, her eating habits are terrible. She eats nothing but junk and meat...nor nothing at all. Mom's worried that she may be coming down with pneumonia. I had that when I was 12 years old, and it's NOT fun.

I cleaned up breakfast, threw together a small lunch, and headed to work. Work was busy when I got in, steady-to-dead when I left, and not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It might be partly because tomorrow is Columbus Day and a lot of people have off...but I think it was mostly due to the Eagles kicking the Buccaneers' rear ends, 33-14. (The Giants were nice enough to soften up the Raiders for us next week, too.)

Picked up buttermilk, skim milk, brown sugar, and oatmeal, then jumped on the bike. I was going to go straight home, but it was only about quarter after 5 by then. I decided to see if anyone was still around at Uncle Ken's and how the game went.

Yes, there were still people around. Dolores, Uncle Ken, two sets of Dolores' married children and their children, and my cousins Samantha and David and THEIR kids were all churning home-made strawberry ice cream on the porch when I arrived. I came inside just in time to get a taste. All the churning the kids complained about was worth it. It was the most delicious ice cream I ever tasted, sweet and creamy, with lots of big strawberry pieces.

Dolores said Rose and Craig were around earlier, but had already left by quarter after 5. No one could remember who brought the magic bars sitting on the counter, until I remembered that Mom had mentioned Rose begging for her recipe this morning. "Magic bars" are blondies made from condensed milk, coconut, chocolate chips, and cookie crust. They are some of the most divine cookies on the planet. Rose's buddies used to consume them in mass quantities at family parties when we were in high school and college.

I watched the kids run around for a little longer, until I'd finished my soda and ice cream and got tired of trying to dissuade them from riding my bike. Headed home after that, waving good-bye to Sam and her crew on the way out. Just finished a small salmon and salad dinner and this week's Dress Circle. ("Musicals about boy bands/male vocal groups," was the theme. Spotlighted shows included Forever Plaid, Five Guys Named Moe, Alter Boyz, and of course, Jersey Boys.)

I'm going to do the laundry tomorrow on a very, very rare holiday that I didn't ask for off.
New Monkees Role Play Story Posted

Just posted our Monkees Role Play story for this month, a comic Halloween mystery. Enjoy!

This Month's Story

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Umbrellas of Oaklyn

The day started off gloomy...inside and out. I feverently hoped it wouldn't pour during my usual Saturday errands. It was still humid, though a little cooler than yesterday. The rain held off when I was at the bank, and it was still cloudy but not rainy as I hit the farm market. I needed a lot today - ended up with pears (peaches are still out, but I'm tired of them), tiny little apples, bok choy, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, leeks (first time since the spring), Colby cheese from the dairy booth, and red and green peppers.

I rode around to look at yard sales. It had been spitting since the farm market, but after the second yard sale, it started raining more heavily. I stopped under several trees, waiting for the showers to stop. The second time was under a tree at Newton River Park. I decided I was closer to the Haddon Township Library than to home, so I rode in that direction.

As it turns out, the Library was busy, and there was plenty of help. For once, there were few books or DVDs to put away. They must have had a lot of weekend help, possibly local kids needing something useful to do on a messy holiday weekend. I shelved some DVDs, but otherwise wasn't there for very long.

I took the long way around, down Crystal Lake Road and King's Highway back to the White Horse Pike, and then over to Willie the Woodsman's and Wife to see if they had a few items I wanted for friends' birthday presents. They didn't, so I moved on. It was still raining heavily when I was in Audubon, but by the time I left Willie's, the rain had slowed down. Of course, it ended the moment I arrived home and was sunny on and off the rest of the day.

Even so, I opted to stay in. I baked a cake, adding fiber to the simple Mickey Mouse Cookbook cake recipe and cutting the fat with applesauce, Smart Balance butter, and whole-wheat flour along with the regular. I tried making my own icing as well, but that didn't go quite as nicely. I was almost out of milk, so I added applesauce to the powdered sugar and butter, which just made it I threw in some cocoa powder, which did cut down on the grain a little.

Watched The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as I worked on the cake and heated up some Turkey Chili for dinner. I'm not usually fond of foreign movies, but I'd heard this one was a musical, and really good, not to mention French, which I speak a tiny bit. This was one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen. Two teenagers fall in love in late 50s provincial France, but he's sent to war (Vietnam?). She winds up pregnant with his kid, and marries to save her mother's umbrella shop (hense the title).

Melodramatic? You bet. It's also beautifully sung (and lots of singing - it's through-sung, with no actual spoken dialogue) and far better than the soap-opera-ish description sounds. The set design and cinematography are breathtaking. The color alone is amazing. It just pops, like candy spread across the screen.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Not Too Hot

Spent most of the morning editing the role play and doing job research. I tried to find possible jobs at the websites for other local libraries. Most of the libraries in the Camden County area don't belong to the Camden County Library system. The libraries in Haddon Heights, Oaklyn, Audubon, Collingswood, Cherry Hill, and Haddonfield are all independent. None of the township web sites had jobs listed for any of them, or any jobs listed at all. One for tree removal in Haddonfield, that was it.

I'm feeling a little depressed. The weather didn't help. It was on-and-off sunny, but had gotten hotter, up to about 75, and more humid. The Acme didn't help, either. It was steady for most of the night, quieting down when I left. I really don't like this job. It's so boring. It's not useful. It's not something that normal single 30-year-olds do. I'm the only single 30-year-old working there. Everyone else is either older, a teenager, a college student, or has kids.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fear of Balance

Started off an absolutely gorgeous fall day with this week's yoga class. There were twelve people in the class, including the teacher, Karin, making this the largest Thursday class I've attended thus far. We concentrated on working the shoulders today. We did stretches and worked on handstands. I'm getting a little better at them. I can get off the floor, but not all the way yet. I just can't trust my thin shoulders to give me the lift I need.

Went to the thrift shop briefly next. Erica had opened Friends In Deed early, so I was able to drop off some donations and browse around right away. I only had the money for one thing, but it was a corker - the double LP of the original soundtrack for The Empire Strikes Back. Said "hi" to Erica, then went down to the Collingswood Library until it was time for counseling.

I did tell Scott about the changes in my family - Rose's pregnancy, Anny and Skylar's move - but we mostly discussed my job problems. He more-or-less said the same thing Linda and Jen did in their comments on my last entry - explore the possibilities and be more open-minded.

The thing is, I really, REALLY want out of the Acme...and I can't live on 15 hours a month. I know nothing about medicine and have absolutely no interest in it whatsoever. I wouldn't know what to write there!

I was broke at this point, so I just rode home. I spent the rest of the day baking and watching Fairie Tale Theater episodes. My favorite was one of three shows my parents taped in the 80s, The Dancing Princesses. Lesley Anne Warren is the most intelligent of a group of six royal sisters who wear out their dancing shoes every night. Their overprotective father wants to know why he's paying so much money for shoes, so he sets up a contest for princes to attempt to solve the mystery. An experienced soldier is given a bit of magic by an old woman that may aid him in making more than few discoveries...

Tried a recipe from Betty Crocker for low-in-saturated fats (that's what the book said - and it was written in 1961) Stir and Drop Sugar Cookies, which uses oil instead of butter or shortening - I used Smart Balance. I added fiber to them as well by replacing one cup of regular flour with a cup of whole wheat flour.

I also baked bread for the first time in weeks. Made a Buttermilk Rye-Whole Wheat Loaf that came out very well, very moist, dark, and tangy.

Went for a walk around the neighborhood while the bread was on its first rise. I'm so glad I had today off! It was absolutely stunning, sunny, breezy but not as windy as the last few days, and in the mid-upper 60s. I walked down Goff Avenue to the river, then walked back around to West Clinton Avenue and up Manor. The leaves here are just beginning to turn colors, brilliant shades of crimson, orange, gold, and lemon yellow. They crunched nicely under my feet. Children were out playing and riding bikes after school, while adults mowed the lawn or chatted with neighbors.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Winds of Fall

Spent a chilly, windy day mostly inside. I just hung out online this morning. I should have been doing job research, but I procrastinated. I know, not doing anything won't get me anywhere. How can I explain how scared I am? I know, I know - get over it, everyone in the whole entire universe is out of a job, etc, etc. That's not helping me. It's not a matter of thinking negatively or positively, either. There's just so much out there, and I don't know where to begin. I've posted my resume at the major job sites, but they never send me anything legitmate. I need to find a library assistant job or something similar that will hire me despite not having a college degree in the right thing.

Also enjoyed two more Fairie Tale Theater episodes, both about the misadventures of curious young boys. Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens makes a surprisingly spot-on Pinocchio, with Carl Reiner as Geppetto, Lanie Kazan as the Blue Fairy, James Coburn as the evil Gypsy who wants Pinocchio in his puppet show, and James Belushi as one of the two con artists who trick the innocent puppet twice. Jack and the Beanstalk is stolen by Elliot Gould and Jean Stapleton as the Giant and his nagging wife.

Work wasn't much more interesting. It was off-and-on busy, with no major problems. I had no relief and was in and out quickly. My ride was very windy. I had to chase after the bikes' covers when I got home!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What's Out There

I slept in and spent the morning watching Fairie Tale Theater episodes. Ran through two comic Hans Christian Anderson tales (The Emperor's New Clothes and The Princess and the Pea), the more romantic Anderson story (Thumbelina), and a very cute adaptation of several Grimm tales, The Princess Who Never Laughed. The importance of comedy in the 80s came up in the wide range of comedians who appeared in many of these stories, from Art Carney and Alan Arkin in New Clothes to Howie Mandel in Princess Who Never Laughed to Tom Conti in Princess and the Pea.

Also made a splendid "Fruit Bake" that came out of this month's Prevention. It's basically a cross between a brown betty and a bar cookie - rub butter, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, spices, and a little white sugar together. Put half the rub on the bottom of a pan. Add fruit (the recipe called for pears, but I used what I had on me, two apples and an overripe peach), then sprinkle the second layer and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Came out very tender and yet nicely crumbly.

I did a little job research in the early afternoon. I didn't come up with much. I've read in several places that many library jobs are in demand right now, but I didn't see any specific jobs listed. I wish there was a way to get my foot in the door and still be able to earn a living.

I NEED to find a real job SOON, because the Acme is driving me nuts. People were cranky today, and I ended up cranky, too. One guy swore that his order suddenly jumped ten dollars in two seconds. (I think he just wasn't paying attention.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hitting a Brick Wall

Between my allergies and looking up sites on Jem and the Holograms, it was almost 3:30 in the morning before I finally got to sleep. Needless to say, I wasn't up until after 10. Started the late morning-early afternoon with this week's laundry session. Dad was the only one home, and even he eventually left to do errands. I read a book on changing careers I took out of the library and took a walk to the Oaklyn Library, enjoying the gorgeous, upper-60s-and-sunny weather.

After I got home, I had a very quick lunch and went back out again to the Haddon Township Library for volunteering. There were piles of DVDs leftover from the weekend to put away, so I was very busy.

I asked the ladies about possibly finding a library assistant job in the Camden County Library System. They said that while they no long require a Civil Service Test, most library assistant jobs are only for 15-20 hours a week. That's no good. I need at least 20 hours or more a week to survive. I'm barely surviving on what I'm making now with 20-30 hours a week and $11.80 an hour.

I was very disappointed and very upset. I was sure this would be the perfect job for me to earn good money for a tutor and for college and to get some experience doing what I want to do. (There's no way in the universe I'll pass the GRD or whatever exam is needed to get into grad school without a tutor. I'm terrible at math. I just barely passed that in college.) I want to do more than volunteer. I want to work in a library all the time, and for a lot more than 15 hours a week. I thought this was right.

I did find some interesting movies and sets at the Library. I took out the classic French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (I don't normally take out foreign films, but I've heard so many good things about this, it would be worth getting past the subtitles) and The Misfits, the modern-set western that was the last movie for Hollywood legends Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Montgomery Clift.

The best find, though, was the full series set for Fairie Tale Theater. Shelly Duvall created, appeared in, and narrated many of the episodes of this long-running HBO family series, in which popular actors of the 80s appeared in retellings of famous and not-so-famous fairy stories. My family loved these when I was a kid. I watched "Cinderella," with Jennifer Beals as the title lass and Matthew Broderick as her prince charming, and the all-black "Puss In Boots," with Ben Verreen as the clever cat, the late Gregory Hines as his befuddled master, and Alfre Woodward as his princess, during dinner at home.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Town Pride

Awoke to an absolutely gorgeous Sunday, the nicest day I've seen here in weeks. I made Cocoa Whole Wheat Pancakes and listened to WOGL's Sunday Beatles show. ("The Songs of John Lennon" was today's theme.) Called Mom after finishing breakfast. She's fine. She spent the week working and helping my sister, Anny, and her son Skylar move to the Villas, about 25 minutes from their old apartment in North Wildwood. Dad is partially helping Anny pay the rent...on the condition that, after a year, she's either gone back to school or found a higher-paying job than her current one at Big Lots in North Cape May. Skylar had to be pulled out of Margaret Mace School as well and re-started in Memorial School in the Villas.

It was such a nice day, I left early, as soon as Brunch With the Beatles was over. There were two rare Sunday yard sales down the street from me. One was the sale on Woodland Terrace I had to leave in a hurry yesterday due to the rain. No such problems today. I finally picked up two more records (the soundtracks for the first Ghostbusters movie and Good Morning, Vietnam) and a stuffed Blastoise Pokemon from the sale at Woodland Terrace and three children's books for Skylar and my cousin Faith from Manor Avenue.

Oaklyn's "Town Picnic" was behind the Oaklyn Public (Elementary) School from 12 to 4 this afternoon. I've never been able to go to it before. I usually work early on Sundays. I took advantage of my later start to join the festivities. It was a free barbecue/fair put on by the school's PTA. In addition to the usual barbecue fixings, like burgers and hot dogs and cole slaw and baked beans, there were soft pretzels, potato chips, sausage, shredded chicken, and tons of sauerkraut! The baked goods table was piled high with cupcakes in all sizes, chocolate cake, brownies, butterscotch spice cookies, and spice cake. I stuffed myself with a shredded chicken sandwich, cole slaw, a soft pretzel, and lots of those butterscotch spice cookies. (They were really good, rich and moist, topped with icing and what I believe to be butterscotch chips.) There was a woodworking booth, several raffles, live bands, and even a pony ride for the kids.

For some reason, I thought I had to work at 1PM, but I really wasn't due until 1:30. I spent that half-hour reading Time Magzine. I might as well have stuck to Time. Work was steady but not really busy, especially for a Sunday. Between a beautiful, sunny day, the many fall festivals and events (like the Town Picnic) planned for this weekend, and this being the Eagles' week off, we had plenty of help and no long lines. I even spent the last hour doing returns.

I got off at 5:30. That gave me enough time to buy milk, eggs (Eggland's Best was having a rare sale), and Smart Balance butter, and still get home in time to have a nice dinner of pan-fried Old Bay flounder and a salad and listen to the full Dress Circle online. ("The Shows of October" was their theme tonight.) And as of this second, I have tomorrow off...and it's supposed to be even more gorgeous.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

How I Spent My Saturday Off

Well, I started it by oversleeping. I wanted to get out earlier to make the Saturday Farm Market/Yard Sale run, but I didn't get out until 10:30. Good thing I went to the bank yesterday.

The Farm Market was super-busy, even at quarter of 11. Thankfully, I was able to find what I needed, and it wasn't much, anyway. I picked up carrots, apples, bok choy, peaches, and zucchini.

I completely forgot the Collingswood Book Festival was today. Every year, on the first Saturday in October, the Collingswood Library holds a big fair on Haddon Avenue where publishers, writers, and used books vendors can sell their wares. There were a few craft booths, but it was mostly books. Mysteries, erotica, books about the South Jersey/Camden area, books about local sports teams, children's books, fiction, non-fiction. There was a special area on Leeds Avenue that was just for the youngest fair-goers, with teenagers costumed as Dr. Seuss characters and Where's Waldo, clay-making, and face-painting.

I rode around a little after I left the Book Festival and checked out yard sales, but I only found one interesting one. Good thing it was around the corner from me. As I checked out the massive selection of records, the clouds that had been on-and-off all morning burst into a shower. As parents and children dashed around, trying to cover collectables, I grabbed a couple of records, paid the mother, and made my own dash for my apartment. I ended up with the greatest hits of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Steppenwolf, one of Weird Al Yankovitz' earliest albums, and the soundtrack to the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol with Albert Finney, Scrooge.

The rain had already lightened when I arrived home. I decided if it did end, I would go for a trip into Philadelphia. If it didn't, I'd stay at home for the rest of the day. By the time I'd finished lunch, the rain had stopped, though it remained warm and humid. I figured it was safe to head for Philadelphia.

The PATCO train into Philly was surprisingly full for a weekend. I guess I wasn't the only one who decided to do a little shopping in the city. I went to all my usual favorite places, the FYE and Borders on Broad Street, the Hallmark on Market Street, and the Gallery Mall. Philadelphia was teaming with people today, both on the street and in the buildings. I had to make my way through some pretty heavy crowds.

FYE has all of it's WebKinz Accessories and clothing on sale for $1 and $2 respectively. I bought a Santa Suit for my reindeer Clarence to wear at Christmas. I've almost bought it several times at Willie the Woodsman and Wife in Audubon, but it's $11.99 there.

Ducked into the Hallmark on Market Street, across from Hard Rock Cafe, to avoid some noisy evangelist's spiel. I bought two birthday cards for two of my best friends, Lauren and Amanda, who have October birthdays. (Amanda, in fact, had hers Friday. I really need to e-mail her.)

The FYE at the Gallery Mall didn't have clothing or accessories, but they did have the new October WebKinz. It was hard to choose between the Peppermint Puppy and the Citrus Dragon, but I finally decided I liked the Citrus Dragon's virtual pet item, a Lemonade Stand, better. I picked up the DVD for Annie on sale at Suncoast.

I took a full train home around quarter of five. The sun had come out sometime between my arrival in Philadelphia and my departure, and I rode home in glistening, still somewhat humid sunshine.

Oh, and meet Limon, my Citrus Dragon! I think I'll put him outside with Plymouth the Turkey (if he understands that the turkey is his friend, not his Thanksgiving dinner). ;)

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Ghost of a Chance

Slept in this morning after a second bout with allergy attacks in a row kept me awake last night. Thankfully, my nose was feeling much better by the time I finally got out of bed around 10:30. I had a quick breakfast of carrot muffins, orange green tea, and a peach, then headed for the Acme to pick up my paycheck and take a look at the stores behind the mall.

The Acme was very busy when I arrived for my check. Not surprising, given this is the beginning of the month. FYE wasn't busy when I was there. I was looking for Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving on DVD, but I didn't see it there, so I went on my way. Made a brief stop at Fashion Bug. I was going to go to Wal-Mart, but the parking lot was packed. I didn't even want to think of what it would be like inside! I just went back to the Acme instead.

Didn't have a really long list today. I wanted more of the canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning. (They're still on sale, though not as good as last week.) I was out of brown sugar, too, and almost out of allergy medicine. I hadn't had rye flour in a while - the Acme had the smaller Hodgeson Mill box on sale. Stocked up on Dannon and Acme generic light yogurt. (I love pineapple-coconut yogurt, and they have delicious light versions.) I saw that Edy's Ice Cream was on sale and treated myself to my annual fall dessert, their heavenly Pumpkin flavor. It really tastes like pumpkin pie. I've bought at least one carton every fall since I first encountered it in college in 2000.

Rode straight home after work (and after I picked up my schedule, since I hopefully won't be at the Acme at all tomorrow). Put everything where it belonged, then headed out again. First stop was the bank, where I deposited this week's large paycheck. For once, I actually have more in the bank than I thought I did, even after paying my bills. My rent will only be a few days late.

My next stop was a little restaurant on Cuthbert Road that I've always wanted to try, Geneva's Pizza. It turned out to be very nice and clean on the inside, with pretty watercolors of Italy. A couple of what looked like workers from the White Horse Pike were enjoying lunch there when I arrived, chatting and watching some dumb talk show. The man-and-woman pair who ran the place were very sweet and attentive. I enjoyed French fries and a turkey and bacon wrap with thick slices of smoky bacon that tasted like they came from a slab, not one a bag in the supermarket.

Headed down Cuthbert Road to the Haddon Township Library next for this week's volunteering session. It was past 3PM by that point. I didn't want to stay for too long, so I just shelved adult and children's DVDs. I also finally got the nerve to mention to one of the librarians that I was interested in becoming a librarian myself, but wanted to find a related job to earn money for tutoring, so I could go back to school. She suggested becoming a library assistant or technician, which only requires a Civil Service test.

Made a quick stop at Super Fresh for low-fat salad dressing, then headed back to the apartment to conduct further research. Turns out library assistants mostly shelve books and add data into the system, which I happen to be very good at. They can earn anywhere from $8 to $16 an hour. I earn $11.80 at the Acme now, which is the only reason I haven't pushed harder to leave. I've been deathly afraid no one else will hire me for that amount of money so lacking in experience as I do. I'll do further research on Monday.

It was supposed to rain today, but the weather never got worse than gloomy clouds and tons of wind. The rain was supposed to be worse tomorrow; we'll see what happens.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Good News Balance

The first words I heard when I turned on the radio this morning were "...and the Phils won the NL East for the third year in a row!"

I knew it was going to be a good day.

The second piece of good news came about a half-hour later, as I was getting dressed for yoga class. My sister Rose finally called me back, after I left two calls (one when she was about to take a nap) this weekend. Her big news? She and her boyfriend Craig are having a baby. I'm going to be an aunt again! I'm so excited!

Yoga class was neither too full (there were 7 people there with the teacher, Karin) nor too difficult. In honor of the chilly morning, it was mostly back stretches, standing poses, and "heart warmers." In fact, a lot of it was meditating. I can handle that.

Made a quick stop at the Collingswood WaWa for water after class, then rode home. There was mail for me in the mailbox when I arrived. Much to my surprise, it was a check from Cape Counseling in Cape May County for $21. I haven't gone there since December 2005, about a month before I moved. I have no idea what the money's for. Oh well. Extra money is extra money.

I got a lot done late this morning and early this afternoon. I put up the Halloween decorations. I brought out the winter clothes. I covered the air conditioner. I baked carrot muffins from a recipe in one of my British baking books. I did the budget.

Work was steady, probably because it's the beginning of the month. Though I heard other cashiers complain about rude customers, I didn't have any problems. I was in on time, and my relief arrived when he was supposed to.