Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stew, Snow, and History

My rare Sundays off are usually pretty quiet, and this one was no exception. I lay around for a little while after waking up, just reading and writing in my journal. I made Chocolate-Chip Whole Wheat Pancakes with home-made Cranberry Syrup for breakfast when I finally did drag my rear out of bed.

Had a nice, long chat with Mom after eating. She'd apparently just gotten up herself. She'd had a decent week and was in a fairly good mood. Keefe had also gotten up and was just plain tired. He'd gone to Lower Cape May Regional High's Winter Wonderland Dance the night before and seemed to have had a good time.

We talked for an hour, mostly about my sister Rose's pregnancy and how much I like living here, even though I feel a little out of place. My neighbors are really nice people, and there's so much to do here. Everything I need is right outside my door or a bike or train ride away.

My sister Rose will be having her first child in May. Her baby shower is next month. We talked about her gaining weight, about what I intend to give her for the shower, and about how she and her boyfriend are having differences about how to raise the child. We were raised eating whole grain food and fruits and vegetables; Craig wasn't. We never really went to church and weren't really raised with religion; Craig's family wants the baby to be Christian and that's it.

We talked for so long, a whole hour of the Brunch with the Beatles show went by without me even realizing it. The theme was "The Beatles in 1970 and 71." I'm glad I got to hear at least John Lennon's three '70 solo hits ("Instant Karma" is a favorite of mine), "Let It Be," "The Long and Winding Road," and Paul McCartney's two. I don't think I really heard George Harrison's.

I let the I Love the 70s Sunday afternoon show run while I prepared my second crock-pot recipe. While the Mediterranean soup Tina posted yesterday sounds nice, I'm not a fan of beer or olives and had none in the apartment. I opted for a simple beef stew instead. I first browned some beef chunks. While they were in the pan, I chopped two stalks of celery (leaves and all), a carrot, a quarter of a small onion, and some of the leftover broccoli from the other night. When the beef was done, I tossed them and the veggies into the crock pot with low-salt beef broth, no-salt-added tomato paste, and pinches of oregano, parsley, and pepper.

I went for a walk while the stew simmered. I didn't feel like a train ride this time, so I just walked down to Newton River Park. (Passed by Uncle Ken's on the way and chatted briefly with him while he got some fresh air on the porch.)

The park showed the effects of the more spring-like weather we've had recently. There were still patches of snow left on the ground, but they weren't as heavy or icy as even a few days ago. All but a very few patches of icy snow were gone from the sidewalks. The shady paths on the side of the park that passes several houses were still muddy and snowy, though, and likely will remain that way for another couple of weeks, or until it gets warm enough for the sun to get through there.

I stopped at the little bridge over the river to watch some ducks and Canadian geese playing on the river. About half of the river is still frozen, to the point where some gulls were standing on it, but most of it was waving softly in the cool breeze. The ducks seemed to be having a marvelous time, and I enjoyed watching their antics.

Headed back for the White Horse Pike after leaving the park. I had no idea what to have for lunch. I'd debated Taco Bell, but I didn't feel like fast food, and most of the other restaraunts in Oaklyn aren't open on Sundays. I finally opted for a hot roast beef hoagie and fountain Coke Zero with Chocolate and Raspberry syrups from WaWa.

I was greeted by the most delicious smell when I walked in the door of my apartment. The beef stew was simmering nicely, the broth and beef and tomato sauce turning a nice rust-red color. I decided to let it go a little longer and did some pilates.

After I finished, I turned off the crock-pot and let it cool a little before dinner. Besides, I wasn't that hungry yet. I decided to take the opportunity to finally do something I've meant to do since I got this laptop from my best friend Lauren last summer. I downloaded the pictures I've taken on my digital camera between Christmas 2008 (when I first got it) and two weeks ago, after the second blizzard. The downloading took mere minutes, a far cry from the hours it took on my old upright computer. I organized the pictures into four CDs - one for pictures from Christmas 2008 and 2009, one for pictures from last year's vacation with Lauren and the trip to Philadelphia with Linda and James, one for other family events, and one for shots of my porch and the area around my apartment during several snowstorms, including the recent one.

It's those snow pictures that I've included in my first Photobucket album! I may post more personal pictures someday, but for now, I just have the shots I took on Christmas Eve before Rose picked me up, between the February blizzards, and on the day of the second blizzard.

My Photobucket Account

(Why didn't I take any pictures on the day of the first February blizzard? I worked that day and didn't have the time to be running around with my camera. I was going to take it to work with me that morning, but forgot.)

Not everything I did today came out so well. I tried baking a Banana-Cranberry-Chocolate Chip Bread before dinner, but it refused to bake and came out more like bread pudding. Oh well, no more using parchment paper for the breads. I think it's preventing them from cooking.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Slush World

It was flurrying when I woke up this morning, but the wind was gone and it wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday. The sidewalks were still a little messy when I ran to the bank to deposit my paycheck. I did quite a bit of slipping and sliding. I hit a lot of slushy puddles, especially on the White Horse Pike. My boots were soaked when I got home.

Since I had some time after I came back from bank, I swept the remaining slush off the area of my porch leading to the steps and salted them. (Michael must have salted the steps the other night before or during the storm.) I updated my finances. I had a small lunch of yogurt, applesauce, and a granola bar before grabbing an apple for a snack, changing into my uniform, and heading for work.

The snow had ended shortly after I got back to the apartment. It was merely cloudy when I rode my bike to work. I still had to walk my bike on the mush-covered sidewalk on the Black Horse Pike, but even then, it was disappearing fairly rapidly.

Work was almost exactly the same as yesterday - on and off busy. We had plenty of help for once, and there were no major problems besides some faintly annoying beginning-of-the-month people. I didn't have a relief, but it was quiet enough by 5 that I was able to shut down.

Good thing, too, because I had a LOT of grocery shopping this week. I desperately needed to restock just about every fruit and vegetable in my larder, and I'm almost out of olive oil, cereal, and granola bars, too. I ran out of milk this morning. I was overloaded on the bike going home, but I did make it back. Helps that the sidewalk was mostly clear by quarter of 6.

There was a box on my landlady's porch when I arrived home. I saw it there when I left for work, but I hadn't had the time to grab it then. I ordered a small, 1.5 quart Crock Pot from the Vermont Country Store, via a gift card Lauren gave me for Christmas. I thought a Crock Pot would be nice for days like today, when I work in the late morning and afternoon and have time for dinner afterwards...but no desire to cook it. I'm testing the pot now with an "Old Fashioned Rice Pudding" made with brown rice and fat-free evaporated milk. We'll see how it works out.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cabin Fever

Sometime during the night, the snow finally stuck to the street. Manor Avenue was lightly covered with white fluff when I awoke this morning, and more was coming down. It was still really windy, too, which was really the problem here. The snow turned out to be the light, soft spring snow that falls quickly and disappears just as fast. Though I spent the morning hanging around inside, the street had melted into slush by quarter of 1 and was clear enough for me to ride to work. I did have to walk my bike over the slush on the sidewalks on the Black Horse Pike, but otherwise, there were no problems.

Work was actually pretty quiet when I came in, but it picked up big-time around the usual 4-6 rush hour. I heard them contemplating calling people in early, but we did finally get some more help. Thankfully, there were no real customer problems and my relief was on time.

I normally grocery shop on Fridays, but I was off at 6 and I wanted to get home before it became fully dark, just in case everything turned into ice. I'll do it tomorrow after work.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cozy Balance

It was, indeed, snowing when I awoke this morning. However, what it wasn't doing was sticking. The only things covered with snow were the remaining ice piles. Other than it being windy, I had no trouble hopping on the bike and heading to Collingswood for my first yoga class in almost three weeks.

I'm really glad I did. Class was fun. The Olympics had gotten Karin jazzed and feeling up for a lot of twisting and standing poses. She wasn't the only one, either. Despite the weather, there was a big crowd today, 13 students counting Karin. We worked with a partner at one point, too, pulling them as they did downward facing dog and getting good stretches on both ends.

My next stop after class was something I've wanted to do since I got my tax return in the beginning of the month - get a haircut! I desperately needed one. My hair was getting too thick and heavy and was a mass of split ends. I sat back and enjoyed a hot chocolate and chatted with the ladies about the weather and their customers. Some lady called while I was finishing my drink and apparently tried to push her highlights-and-cut-and-full treatment appointment further back in the day...after attempting to cancel it all together.

The young lady who cut my hair did a fabulous job. I got it styled in soft layers around my face, which brought out my curls nicely. It's a little shorter than I had it in September, since we'll be getting into spring soon. I absolute love it. It's so cute.

The Collingswood Library was next on my list. I had enough time after my hair cut to do get some volunteering in there. I helped FA, the librarian in charge of the volunteers, put DVDs away and return the covers. (The Collingswood Library circumvents DVD theft by keeping the actual DVDs in a locked file behind the main counter. The only things on the shelves are the boxes.)

Headed to CoffeeGround, the coffee shop a few blocks from Genesis Counseling, for lunch. I had a nicely spicy Vegetarian Chili and some more hot chocolate. Chatted with the young guys, most of whom looked about college age or slightly older. We made jokes about all the people fussing over the weather for no good reason. The snow was coming down fairly heavily...but it STILL wasn't sticking to anything important.

I made a short stop at Rite Aid and ended up with water, which was much-needed after the well-seasoned chili. An older lady told me there that not everyone had handled the weather well. The Philadelphia School District had actually decided to shut down today...based after last night's over-hyped weather reports.

Counseling was next on the list. Had a nice chat with Scott, mostly about my crazy month and my problems losing weight. Namely, I've been gaining weight for months. I'm back over 200 again. Scott suggested that I try eating slower, and putting down my fork between bites. French Women Don't Get Fat also mentioned this. My best friend Lauren, who is a very slow eater, has also pointed out my bad habit of eating too quickly before. I really do need to work on that.

The snow still wasn't sticking after I left Genesis Counseling, but the wind was getting worse. I didn't have any other running around to do, so I just went straight home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at the apartment, catching up on another chore I've put off for weeks - baking! I made Rosemary Dinner Rolls from the Live Longer Cookbook and added cranberries to that delicious Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from last March's Prevention Magazine. Watched Singin' In the Rain, listened to soundtracks, and watched the snow drift cozily across my porch and the river.

(And BTW, the snow has finally the ground. As of this writing, it has yet to stick to the street or sidewalks.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow Need To Panic

Started off a cloudy, damp morning with my first run to the Haddon Township Library in almost three weeks. I couldn't put it off any longer. I had a big stack of books due, some of which were overdue.

Getting there was a chore. Cuthbert Road, which isn't the easiest street to navigate on normal days, was a muddy mess, and busy to boot. I couldn't take the longer route this time, though. I had to work later.

I returned everything but one book I left at Dad's (I'll return that next week). There were lots of DVDs to return, adults' and kids', so I spent an hour doing those. I tried talking to one of the librarians about jobs, but she didn't really lift my spirits. She said her children are my age and out of California. From what I've gathered, half of California is out of work. They've been hit a lot harder by the economic problems than we have.

I spent another hour looking for books. I took out one on networking, two American Girls books (I've never read Josefina's Changes book and I haven't read Molly's in a long time), one on nutrition for women, and three novels. They had the new Susan Kandel Cece Carusco mystery, Dial H For Hitchcock, that I've been waiting for. I also grabbed the next in the series for the Holmes on the Range and Avery Andrews mysteries.

Went straight home after I checked out my stack of books. Got in around quarter of 1...and it's a good thing I did. There was a message from a manager on my answering machine. Could I come in at 1 instead of 3? Obviously not. I rushed lunch and changing and made it in by 2.

No wonder they needed me. We were mobbed again. This is getting a little silly. It was one thing when we were really supposed to get hit with over a foot of snow, but the National Weather Service is saying 6 inches for here, 12 inland. Not to mention, any snow we do get will probably just melt in a day or two. The ground is as mushy as an old tomato. It's just too warm for the snow to stick around like it has...and unlike the last few storms, it's not supposed to get much colder than this. One of my customers mentioned that the local newscasts were really hyping the storm, which would explain a lot.

They originally wanted me to stay later, but I was iffy because of riding home in the dark. Thank goodness they did get a relief in - he was one of the boys who is always late coming from work, but at least he appeared at all. The snow is now completely gone from the sidewalks on the Black Horse Pike, making my ride a lot easier.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wet Winter Weather

Today was laundry day. I slept in longer than I'd planned, so I tried to take the path across the train tracks to save time. That was a big mistake. It was a total mess back there. The softly falling rain added huge puddles to wherever there wasn't still snow and slush. I did finally make it to Hilcrest Avenue, after climbing through that tangle of vines again and soaking my errand-running sneakers.

It was too late and too wet for me to try to get to the Oaklyn Library or run any errands. I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon reading Southern Fried and drying off instead. Dad got in from Florida yesterday. He ended up driving me home and to work (after I stopped at home, had a very quick lunch, changed, and put my clothes away).

The managers had tried to call me in earlier, but I was still at Dad's then. By the time I got in, it was too late. Turned out to not really matter much anyway. Though the cashier at the self-checkout lanes said it was busier in the afternoon, by 2, it had slowed down. It was on-and-off busy all night, not dead but nothing anyone couldn't handle.

I was a little annoyed with the teenage night manager. She told me I had a relief, then sent the girl in the register in front of me and shut me down. What she didn't notice was I still had a line. I ended up being a little late.

This actually worked to my advantage. I called Dad on my cell phone to pick me up...just as I saw him coming out the exit door behind me! Seems he discovered he needed a few things and had arrived early. He dropped me home, and I spent the rest of the evening watching Good Eats episodes and eating honey-glazed carrots and leftover Chinese Chicken Legs for dinner.

Oh, and the rain's been coming down rather hard all night, and to my knowledge, is still coming down. According to the National Weather Service, we may still get some snow, but it'll probably be an inch or two. Given how warm it's been, even if we do get snow, I doubt it'll stick for very long.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"I Think It'll Rain Down..."

Well, at least it wasn't this morning. I had 11AM work. It was merely cloudy and a bit cooler than yesterday when I headed across the Black Horse Pike. The snow-covered sidewalks had cleared enough for me to walk my bike around and over the remaining icy patches. Hopefully, the weather will clear out the remaining snow, as it did on Christmas Day.

Work was busy all day, probably due to several major 4-day 10 for $10 sales. We had no problem whatsoever, including missing help. I was in and out quickly, picking up brown sugar during lunch.

I finished work at 4 and spent the rest of the afternoon doing a quick dusting session. I wasn't going to do anything too big. I just did it not long ago, and the dust wasn't really that bad, but it had to be done. It's one of the many chores and errands I've put off over the past couple of weeks, thanks to the weather and my cold. Hopefully, I'll be able to catch up on a lot of things this week.

It didn't notice it raining until I'd stepped out of the shower and heard water tapping on my roof along with the water going down the drain. It was coming down pretty well earlier, but it seems to have settled down into a drizzle.

No matter what it does, at least it isn't snow. Snow doesn't bother me, per se...but I'm getting sick of all the hysteria over it. We don't normally get three major storms in one season, and no one around here knows how to react. I'm tired of everyone whining over it at work, customers and employees.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Calm Before the Storms

I slept in, until 9:30, and relished it. I never get Sundays off, so it was a real treat to be able to spend a morning making Cranberry-Sunflower Seed Pancakes and not having to rush. Mom called ME, for a change, too. She was enjoying some quiet time to herself after Dad had finally gone fishing for the first time since before Christmas...the first time we've had decent enough weather to be fishing.

Other than that, she hadn't had a great week. My sister Anny, her son Skylar, and my brother Keefe had all gone through a violent bout with the flu that lasted hours and apparently involved violent unloading of stomachs several times an hour. Poor Skylar had it the worst. He got so dehydrated, Mom said if he'd done it any longer, they would have had to take him to the hospital. Mom says she hasn't gotten it yet...unusual, since she's usually the first one to get anything.

Spent the rest of the morning with breakfast and Brunch With the Beatles. They honored George Harrison with most of his major Beatles songs and quite a few solo tunes, from the pre-fame "Three Cool Cats" to my favorite of his solo work, "All Those Years Ago."

I took off immediately after the Beatles ended. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, bright, windless, and probably in the upper 40s-lower 50s for the first time in ages. Perfect day for a walk. I thought of going to Audubon and Haddon Heights, but most of the small stores up there are closed on Sunday. I turned around and went in the direction of Collingswood instead.

Most of the stores in Collingswood were closed, too, but the town was hopping anyway. There were lots of people out enjoying the weather, ranging from parents with energetic kids to elderly folks to teenagers. As it was past 1 by that point, I assumed they'd just gotten out of church.

I found lots of people, but not much to do. I hiked over to the PATCO station and took a five-minute train ride to Haddonfield. Haddonfield is kind of the same thing as Collingswood - a small, eclectic, upwardly-mobile town on a major highway. Thankfully, there's fewer closed shops in Haddonfield than in Collingswood (although one of the early casualties was that really cool used CD store where I bought my Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Vol I and II and Monkees Greatest Hits discs), and most of them were open.

(On the other hand, for a town that has "Shop Local" posters plastered everywhere, there's an awful lot of chain stores, including Cold Stone Creamery, Starbucks, and CVS.)

Not to mention, there are few towns in New Jersey - or anywhere - that can claim to have a dinosaur named after it. The near-complete skeleton of Hadrosaurus was discovered near Haddonfield in 1858, according to the sign next to the statue of the beast between stores. It was the most complete skeleton ever found up to that point, and it's still on display in the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences to this day.

I spent a couple of hours browsing around the shopping district. I had a yummy hot cider and toasted bagel with cream cheese at the Grind House Cafe. The Happy Hippo Toy Shop was having a 20% off sale on everything in the store. I bought one of the newest WebKinz, a Ginger Cat. I stopped at CVS for a pack of tissues for my purse and bought Palmolive dishwashing liquid on sale and a bag of cough drops (which are much cheaper there than at the Acme).

Finally started heading home around quarter of 4...when the darn train appeared. It took forever. It was fairly full, too, much to my surprise. I guess I'm not the only one who wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather before we get rain later this week. I hung around Collingswood a little while longer, but there still wasn't much open, so I finally headed home down Collings Road. I tried the path on the train tracks, but it's still covered with snow, so I just ended up taking the long way.

I had a small dinner of an omelet made with the last of the stir fry vegetables and cheddar cheese when I got home and watched Muppet Show episodes. I'm glad I went for my little outing today. I haven't really had the chance to get out since early February.

Oh, and meet John the Ginger Cat! My second BeatleKinz, he's going to move in with his mate Paul in their Beatle Flat in LondonKinz.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I debated on and off running to the bank this morning, since I worked at noon. It didn't take very long, and I had to send out bills, anyway, so I did it. It was sunny, bright, and warmer than it has been, probably in the lower 40s. Everything's melting like crazy here. The snow on my porch is more than half-gone.

While the snow is melting in sunny spots, anything in the shade remains icy. I discovered this the hard way when I walked over a patch of ice near the train bridge over West Clinton Avenue and almost ended up flat on my face. That was really close. I'm going to have to be more careful going by there until the snow is gone completely.

I've been feeling really isolated. Of course, it's really part of a larger problem, but it's been more pronounced this winter. It's been at least three weeks since I've been able to run my regular errands, between my hours, the weather, and this cold.

Ok, colds happen to everyone, especially at this time of year. Ok, we got two historic blizzards in a row. Those are legitimate excuses. Ok, I've worked a lot. I just feel like I'm in a box, somehow. I feel like I'm a machine who stands behind a register, says "hello," shoves food around, counts money, and says "good bye." I have no life and no feelings. I can't love, and I can't write anymore. I haven't come up with a really good idea for a regular story in ages. Even our Monkee Role Plays haven't really been that great lately.

I was able to continue to ride the bike to work, still dodging traffic on the Black Horse Pike. More of the snow is melting on the sidewalk, but they aren't anywhere near clear enough to ride on.

Work was, once again, very busy. It was much busier than it has been, and this wasn't aided by being short on help. We had at least four call-outs, including my relief. It was quiet enough by the time I got off that I was able to shut down with no problems.

I took myself out to dinner at Arby's to cheer myself up after work. That was probably a mistake. My stomach's been feeling weird ever since. Maybe it's reacting to the bacon in the Chicken Club Sandwich.

I hope it's not reacting to the ice cream. I bought a gallon of light Turkey Hill Ice Cream after work. Coconut Almond Fudge doesn't sound like a flavor that would normally be called "light," but while fairly high in calories for a light (probably due to the almonds), it has less fat and sugar than some of the plain light and frozen yogurt flavors. I only buy ice cream once in a blue moon, when there's a really good sale. It wasn't the best sale, but come on...who's gonna resist a light Coconut-Almond-Fudge ice cream?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Year of the Tiger

I'm still a little congested, but it's slowly receding. My head's still a little achy and my throat's still sore, but otherwise, I'm perfectly fine. I spent the morning refilling the cookie tin with Cranberry Whole Wheat Bars and watching Monkees second season episodes.

(I'm one of the few people who seem to like the second season better than the first. The first season was fun, but sometimes a bit conventional. The second season can be really strange, but the show's the better for it. My favorite episodes are from the second season - "The Devil and Michael Nesmith" and the infamous "Fairy Tale." Yes, I know the guys were probably on a couple of weird substances, but so were a lot of people in the 60s.)

It was absolutely gorgeous, if windy, today, into the lower 40s. Everything's slowly melting. The snow is half-gone from my porch now. There's still a lot of snow on the ground, though, and unless we get another warm rain like on Christmas Day, those ice piles will be around forever. I was able to ride to work; it was a bit nerve-wracking, thanks to riding on the Black Horse Pike during rush hour both ways.

It's a good thing I am feeling better. The Acme was really busy for the first time in over a week today. We had long lines all day and had to call for extra help. This wasn't helped by a lot of cranky customers, too. Maybe everyone's just annoyed that the next major holiday isn't until Easter...and some folks won't be getting time off until Memorial Day.

Thankfully, my relief was on time, allowing me to get my own grocery shopping in. I had a lot of it after being home constantly for two weeks, too - grapefruit, bananas, apples, collard greens, chicken breasts, packs of fish, yogurt (Yoplait has a new light flavor, Red Velvet Cake, that I'm dying to try), brown eggs, more salt (I'm half-done with the container I bought last week), gourmet chocolate chips (Acme's put it's now-largely-defunct Essentia brands on clearance), and things for my Chinese-themed dinner tonight - canned sliced water chestnuts, plum sauce, and horseradish.

My dinner tonight came out very well. I made a variation on Chinese Chicken Wings from the Family Weeknight Suppers cookbook Linda Young gave me for Christmas. I'm not a big wings fan, so I brushed the plum-horseradish-soy sauce over chicken legs instead. (The sauce originally called for a few drops of hot sauce, but I omitted it. I'm not a big fan of spicy food.) I also threw together a stir-fry of water chestnuts, collard greens, mushrooms, onions, carrots, and celery and ate it over brown rice. It's my make-up dinner for missing Chinese New Year (which I think was the 14th, same as Valentine's Day), and it came out very well, tasty and spicy without being too bad.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Felt much better this morning. My head was still congested, but it no longer felt like Micky Dolenz was playing "Randy Scouse Git" in it. My neck was still a bit achy and my throat was still dry, though. I spent the morning reading Monkees fanfiction (the Birds, Bees set has gotten me thinking Monkees again) and sipping water from a thermos I keep for long trips.

Since I was feeling better, I did go to work. I wasn't coughing or sneezing anymore, just a little sore. Besides, the Acme has kept tissues and hand sanitizer at all registers for over a year, ever since the fussing over the swine flu last year.

I also figured that it wouldn't really be busy anyway, and I was right. We were almost exactly the same as Tuesday; steady enough that the time went fast, but not anywhere close to overwhelming. I was in and out with no problems.

Riding the bike wasn't a problem, either. It was surprisingly warm when I came out, probably in the lower 40s, and everything was melting. It wasn't even really icy when I got out. I was still careful riding home, though, especially on the still-ice-clogged Black Horse Pike.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Ugh. When I awoke this morning, my nose was no longer clogged...but the rest of me still felt terrible. My head was pounding and my neck ached. Yesterday's sniffles must have really been an allergy attack, but I think the rest is a full-blown flu.

Needless to say, I never went anywhere today. I went online for a few hours and read Monkees fanfiction, then had celery and peanut butter for lunch. I read Southern Fried for a while in bed after lunch, and then went down for what I figured would be a short nap...until I woke up 2 1/2 hours later! I had home-made chicken soup, Molasses-Oat Bread, and applesauce for dinner while watching Words and Music.

I work late tomorrow, and only four hours. Hopefully, I'll be up to it by then.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nice to Snow Ya

Yes, it was snowing again when I awoke this morning, to no one's surprise. What WAS surprising was it never stuck to the streets. It did stick to my porch, though. I think we ended up getting the predicted two inches. I swept and salted my porch before heading over to Dad and Uncle Ken's to do this week's laundry session.

It wasn't easy getting to Dad's. The path where the train tracks are had added an additional foot of snow since the last time I was back there. It ended up being a heavy slog. I got tons of snow in the laundry basket and soaked my boots.

I have not felt well all day. I woke up with a runny nose that was soon joined by a pounding head and stuffiness that just would not go away. I thought it would help to get out a bit, so I volunteered at the Oaklyn Library, the first time I've done any volunteering in almost two weeks. I'd gotten out around quarter of 12, though, and I had work at 2 and laundry in the dryer. I didn't do much more than a cursory glance over the DVDs and kids' books.

I didn't feel like slogging through the snow on the path again, so I took the long way home down to West Clinton Avenue and up Manor. I was feeling even worse when I made it to the house, but a box I saw on the stoop improved my mood ten times over. My order of The Birds, the Bees, and the Monkees: Deluxe Edition had finally arrived from Rhino! Apparently, this 3-disc CD set that's only available on their limited edition "Rhino Handmade" label was so overwhelmingly popular, they had to go into a second pressing, pushing the shipping from the 8th to the 12th. I'm thrilled to have it. In addition to the original songs from the album (including my favorite Monkees song, "Daydream Believer"), we have both the original mono and stereo mixes of the songs, as well as a plethora of unreleased and cut songs - so many, most of them are on the third disc. It came with an awesome booklet with lots of nice pictures, a cute pin, and a 45 record single of Mike's "St. Matthew" and Peter's "Lady's Baby."

There was no time to do much more than glance through the contents to make sure they were all there. I had a hasty lunch of the last of the tuna salad, celery, and a Banana-Honey-Coconut Muffin, then rushed to work on my bike. Thankfully, by this point, it was sunny and in the mid-30s. My ride was still a little harrowing due to the snow and ice clogging the curbs and the Black Horse Pike sidewalks, but at least Mother Nature didn't add more.

Rushing ended up being almost pointless. Work was steady-to-dead all night, just busy enough that the time went by fairly quickly. Good thing, too. I still felt awful, and it didn't get much better throughout the night. I had full-blown chills by the time I got home, and not just because it was cold outside.

I was going to hit the Haddon Township Library tomorrow, but if I still feel this bad, I probably won't be going anywhere.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ridin' High

First of all, Happy President's Day to all those who were lucky enough to get today off! We salute two of our greatest presidents who have birthdays this month, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Since the streets are largely clear in Oaklyn, I rode my bike to work for the first time in over a week today, after spending the morning taking down the Valentine's decorations. Other than the wind and some sheer awkwardness around the busy Nicholson Road-Black Horse Pike intersection, I had no trouble. (I normally ride on the sidewalk at the intersection, but the sidewalk is covered with two feet of snow right now. Unlike the sidewalks in Oaklyn, no one ever bothers clearing the sidewalks on the highways.)

Work was on-and-off steady, a bit busier than yesterday due to the holiday. We also had more employees calling out and more difficulty finding help. I was originally asked to stay later, but it only ended up being about fifteen-twenty minutes late when it took forever for my relief to appear.

It was bright and sunny this morning, but by the time I was riding home at quarter after 3, the silvery snow sky had returned. Thankfully, I was indoors doing pilates when it actually started snowing. This time, however, not only did it not really stick, but it didn't come down that hard. It stopped around 6, then started up again before I went in the shower. It's gone again now, and there's barely more than a dusting on the steps and the dry parts of my porch.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

All You Need Is Love...and "Friendship"

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day to all who celebrate it! I'm afraid I'm not really one of them. I guess I'm afraid to meet someone. I'm afraid they won't want me. What would a guy see in me, anyway? I'm not even sure I can love anyone that way anymore. It's been six years since I last went on a date or had a boyfriend.

I've been feeling a little depressed. Winter weather usually doesn't get me this way. I've been gaining weight like crazy, no matter how hard I try to be good about what I eat and use the right things in baking. I'm back above 200 pounds, and the weight isn't stopping. I'm going to gain back everything I lost, I know it. I wish I could remember what I did in the first place to lose weight. I thought I was doing everything right, but I'm obviously not.

I want to lose weight, but I can't stop eating. The weather hasn't been helping, either. I haven't been able to ride my bike in over a week, and I had to miss yoga last week. I wish I knew what I was doing wrong, so I could start doing everything right again. I so badly want to do everything right.

Started the morning with Chocolate Chip-Cranberry Pancakes for Valentine's Day and a call to Mom. She was about to start baking Valetine's goodies for her husband, son, and grandsons. Cape May County once again received more snow than we did, and once again, did a poorer job of clearing it out. Mom says she and Dad are lucky they live on a street with many employees of the city who clear streets for a living and have their own backhoes...and even with them, their street is a thick sheet of ice.

(Which makes me all the more appreciative of how well Oaklyn's cleared their streets, including the side streets.)

Brunch With the Beatles was still running when I finally decided it was time to break up the ice on my porch, before we get more and I get hurt. I used my field hockey stick to smash apart the big pieces and swept it all away with my broom. Used the last of the regular salt on the porch - the steps are perfectly clear and dry. I figured I'd buy more salt at work.

(Incidentally, you probably won't be surprised to learn that the theme for today's Brunch was "Love Songs.")

I walked to work today. Dad said yesterday that he was taking Jodie to a winery, and I figured everyone else I know would have plans with their significant other, too. After all, I'm the only person on the planet with no one who loves them. It was a bright, sunny day, and not too chilly. Most of the sidewalks on Manor and Kendall were clear, but the ones on the Black Horse Pike are still covered with three feet of snow, and I had some nervous moments walking on the highway.

I did make it to work, and on time. Shockingly for a holiday, we were mildly steady but not even as busy as yesterday. It was really rather pleasant, especially when compared to the last few weeks. It was so quiet when I left, I was able to shut down with no relief.

I found out one of the possible reasons for the lack of crowds when I went digging around for salt and buttermilk after work. (I'd used up the last of the buttermilk on my pancakes this morning.) While we did have plenty of buttermilk, we were completely out of salt. The only salt shakers left on the shelf were small containers of sea salt and salt substitute and large boxes of kosher salt. Evidently, they still haven't completely restocked the shelves after all the delivery delays this week. Eggs are still gone, too.

I tried cheering myself up with a trip to FYE. They finally had the February WebKinz, and despite the Love Lion being on sale, the one I really wanted was the English Sheepdog, a fuzzy white and gray fellow with a sweet little smile and a really cute "pet item," a double decker bus. I also found a 1942 vehicle for Lucile Ball and Red Skeleton that looked like fun, Du Barry Was a Lady.

Walking home wasn't quite as much fun as walking to work. I thought Nicholson Road might have been better-cleared. Turned out it wasn't. A lot of the homes with houses whose sides faced Nicholson had only shoveled in front of their homes and not bothered with the side yards. I followed a lot of icy footsteps and dodged a lot of dirt-coated piles of ice. I tried ducking through a grove of pines between a house and an apartment complex whose sidewalks hadn't been plowed, but all they did was poke me. It was easier going when I finally made it to Oaklyn, but I probably won't go that way again.

I thought I'd try making myself a small, one-layer red velvet cake, replacing a half a cup of cake flour with whole wheat flour and adding more buttermilk and less I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Came out quite nicely, topped with a home-made whipped cream frosting.

I ran Du Barry Was a Lady while working on the cake. Technically an MGM adaptation of a hit 1939 Cole Porter musical, I bought Du Barry for a nifty cast that includes Lucile Ball, Red Skeleton, Gene Kelly, and Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, along with a very young Zero Mostel. Ball is a nightclub singer who wants to marry for money, but is really falling for charming dancer Kelly. Skeleton is the dopey hat-check boy who just inherited money and is using it to essentially buy Ball's favors, hoping she'll come to love him. 'Rags' Ragland is Skeleton's pal, Mostel is Kelly's, original deadpan snarker Virgina O'Brien is crazy about Skeleton, and Dorsey's just around for background numbers. Somehow, Skeleton is accidentally slipped a drugged drink and dreams himself into 15th century France. He's King Louis the 15th, Ball is Du Barry, and Kelly is now the revolutionary she loves...but she wants the King's jewelry, too.

No, it doesn't make a lick of sense, and Kelly and Ball are highly underused. There's some nice numbers - Kelly gets to sing a Porter ballad, and Ball and Skeleton duet hilariously on "Friendship" - but for the most part, this is one for the 40s time capsule. There's a lot of topical references (at one point, there's a complaint that most women are working in defense plants instead of nightclubs), and Dorsey's numbers are more there to show off the band than to advance the plot. Cute movie if you're into Porter, swing, the World War II era, or any of the cast, but far from essential.

Oh yes, and meet my WebKinz English Sheepdog Paul! Since I have my WebKinz Monkees, I thought I'd bring in a second WebKinz musical group. Paul is the first member of "The BeatleKinz," my WebKinz Beatles! While the Webbies favor their beachside Pad, the BeatleKinz prefer an urban environment.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Monkees Role Play Posted

Oh, and just in time for Valentine's Day, I posted this month's Monkees role play tonight. I hope you enjoy Adventures On Coconut Island!

Monkees Role Play Site
Emma and the Snowpeople

Spent most of today at work. It wasn't too bad. Steady, but not as busy as it could have been...or anywhere near what it was last weekend before the first storm hit. In fact, it was kind of on-and-off. That's fine by me. It's been a very long couple of weeks, and it looks like I have another one coming. We're supposed to get some kind of snow on Monday and/or Tuesday, though it doesn't look like we'll be getting nearly as much as Wednesday or a week ago.

Dad picked me up and dropped me off from work. There was enough time before he arrived for me to pick up some things I'd forgotten yesterday, and some the Acme had just restocked - celery, bananas, corn meal, and granola bars.

Dad said he'll be busy tomorrow. Uncle Ken might be able to drive me. The streets are generally clear. I'm hoping to be able to take the bike tomorrow. It's just a matter of getting it out to the street, since most curbs are clotted with ice, dirt, and snow.

After I got in, I put away my groceries and went right back out again. Our paychecks had finally come in this morning, and I needed to deposit mine in the ATM machine at the PNC Bank down the street from me. It was a very pleasant little walk. Some sidewalks were still a little icy or snow-covered, but most were salted and clear. I saw several snowpeople perched on yards on Manor Avenue that were really cute. One family used a baby carrot for a nose. Another gave their leaning fellow a jaunty black felt hat. There was a snowwoman with a pink scarf, Valentine's Day beads, and pennies for eyes.

It was worth going out this evening just for a magnificent sunset, all brilliant red in the sky, like a giant bouquet of roses.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Getting Back On Track

Started off the day with early work. Dad drove me this morning. My porch was icy, but my steps were fine. Once again, it was getting past the ice on the sides of the road that was a problem. It took me so long, I was almost late again!

Work started quiet, but it picked up around noon and stayed busy thereafter. We were so busy, I ended up staying an extra hour. We were missing people, too, not a good thing on a President's Day Weekend where even some people who wouldn't normally have off are calling out because of the snow.

In the end, it actually worked out for me. Uncle Ken had to come to the Acme for a few things anyway. I went home with him after I finally got over to America's Best and picked up my contacts and did my own grocery shopping. The Acme's had a hard time restocking shelves because of late grocery deliveries. We're completely out of bananas, celery, and regular eggs, and a lot of customers weren't happy. I bought more oranges to make up for the missing bananas and the last small bag of carrots. I had an easier time buying apples, cubed steak, fish fillets, broccoli, grapefruit, cranberries (a dollar a bag), mushrooms, sweet potatoes, canned peaches, and the new Acme generic version of Life cereal.

Good news, bad news, and mixed news on next week's schedule. The good news after this week is fewer hours. Yeah, I know that means I won't get as good of a paycheck, but I really need some time to do things I wasn't able to do because of the storm and my increased hours this week. The bad news is only one day off again, Wednesday. The mixed news is shorter and later hours; the earliest is noon, the latest is 7. On one hand, I didn't really mind working early. I'd rather work early. On the other hand, however, it would be nice to have some time in the morning to get errands done.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Wonderland

I started the day quietly, with the radio, oatmeal for breakfast, and pilates. It was really a rather beautiful day. The sky was was a dazzling blue and the sun a blazing yellow that made the now-three-feet of snow sparkle like thousands of microscopic crystals. I figured few people would be able to shovel themselves out of a foot of snow by 11AM, so I walked to work.

When I stepped onto my porch, I found myself in a white world. Everything was blindingly white, from the ground to the tops of whispery trees. My porch was still messy from last night. I had to walk down very carefully. The path to the street wasn't too bad, thanks to Michael's efforts yesterday afternoon, but the street itself had been blocked by piles of ice and snow scraped off to the sides by snow plows. It took me longer to get to the street than to walk on streets and sidewalks!

Kendall and Manor weren't too bad. The streets were slushy, but they'd been plowed, and many sidewalks were shoveled or in the process of being shoveled. I didn't have any problems until I hit the Black Horse Pike. The highway had been plowed...but naturally, no one had bothered with the sidewalk. I had to walk in the street. The piles of ice along the curb in front of the Acme were a lot of fun to climb over, too. At one point, I stumbled into a snowdrift that was literally up to my waist!

I was almost late to work. I got in just under the wire. Work was surprisingly steady, despite the mess outside. A lot of people were taking advantage of a day off from work or school and the cleared streets to pick up anything they ran out of after the storm. We were only missing a few people, too.

Though I'd been able to get to work all right, I didn't want to chance walking home later, just in case the streets got icy. I called Dad and got a ride home. I was right in not calling him in the morning; turns out he hadn't been anywhere near finished shoveling Uncle Ken's wide driveway at 11, even with help from neighbors.

My porch was still slushy when I got in, but the steps were clear, perhaps a result of them being in direct sunlight. The sun felt rather nice on my back this morning. In fact, it wasn't really that cold, probably in the mid-30s, which would account for the amazing icicles hanging off of people's roofs and the huge puddles on the streets.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

The weather outside is definitely frightful..and thank goodness I had no place to go. I actually awoke to snow, but it changed to sleet/snow while I was still reading and writing in my journal in bed. By the time I was having Quick Breakfast Crisp for breakfast, the sleet/snow was back to plain old snow again, and remained snow for the rest of the day.

Not surprisingly, I spent the majority of the day inside. I did the budget. (Spent a lot of money last month, but I had a lot of money leftover from Christmas, too.) Worked on editing this month's Monkees Role-Play story. (Look for it by next week at the latest.) I cleaned the kitchen. I made my bed. I vacuumed. I watched Road to Utopia, one of the Road to... movies with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour, which is the only movie I own with a snowy setting. (Bob and Bing flee to Alaska in search of a gold mine; Dorothy wants to fleece them, as she believes they're the men who killed her father, the mine's original owner.)

I got bored between cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming, so I bundled up and went outside. The steps weren't shoveled at that point, so I once again slid down them. I went for a short walk in the park. The snow was heavy, wet, and hard to plow through. It did make for excellent packing snow, though. I made a little snowman and tossed snowballs in the air. I was soaked when I got in, but I'm glad I went for my walk. The air was bracing but not bitterly cold, and it felt good after the stale air indoors.

My neighbor Michael was shoveling my steps when I got back. I found out why he has no qualms about being out in this weather. He apparently works for the local sewer system, and like me, his workplace doesn't shut down when bad weather hits.

Speaking of work, I'm so, so glad I had off today. This is the first time this winter I haven't had to hike to the Acme in a blizzard. I have no idea what I'm going to do about work tomorrow. The snow kept coming down throughout the evening and, despite Michael's efforts, the steps and porch are covered again.

(The only real fly in the ointment today was a rather nasty allergy attack. I don't know why I'm getting one now. I didn't have any sinus problems during the last two storms. Maybe it's because I was inside for most of the day.)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?

Once again, we were mobbed the day before a major snowstorm. Thank goodness it wasn't quite as bad as Friday, but it was plenty busy enough. Unlike Friday, we didn't really have enough help. No one around here expected two major snowstorms in less than five days! We rarely get two snowstorms of any kind in one winter!

Also unlike Friday, things generally went fine, other than the lack of help. The roads are fairly clear, so there were no call-outs. Dad drove me to work again; he said he had to go to the store this morning anyway. My relief was on time, and even as I left, the crowds were starting to thin out. I was able to quickly buy the last things I needed before the next storm hit - birthday cards for my sister Jessa and my stepfather Bill, batteries, and hand soap for the bathroom.

After Dad took me home, I went inside, changed, grabbed my laundry, and went right back out again to Dad and Uncle Ken's house. Everyone was at home, awaiting the storm. Normally, I do the laundry in the morning, but I really wanted to avoid being out in the weather this time.

It still wasn't snowing by about quarter of five, so I decided to go for a walk and see if the Oaklyn Library was open in the evening tonight. It wasn't. I ended up going for a stroll on the White Horse Pike instead. I stopped at WaWa for a Hot Chocolate that was very rich and chocolate-y, then went in the opposite direction. It was rush hour as I made my way down the sidewalks. Unlike yesterday, most of the sidewalks now seemed to have been shoveled, and the relatively warm day had melted much of the ice. It was much easier to head down to CVS and just hang out than it had been to run my errands the morning before.

I didn't really need anything at CVS, so I headed home after that. By that point, it was dark...and it STILL hadn't started snowing. I had shrimp salad on one of those new "deli flats" rolls and pickles for dinner with Dad and Jodie. Dolores and Uncle Ken had leftover apples, ham, and cabbage. Dad drove me home after dinner.

I called my stepfather when I got in to wish him a happy birthday. Bill seemed to be in a very good mood; I caught him about to settle down for a night of TV. He said he had a nice, quiet day with his son, wife, daughter, and grandsons. They bought him many things he needed - boots for work (he's a commercial fisherman), a new motorcycle cover, a shaving kit.

It still hadn't snowed when I came home. The snow didn't start until around 7:30 - quarter of 8. I had just finished putting away the laundry and was online chatting with Lauren. I went into the kitchen to look out the front door...and discovered the snow coming down hard. There was already a dusting on the shoveled parts of the porch and the steps at that point. Now, they're covered to the point where you can't see the porch again.

Monday, February 08, 2010

With Plenty of Money and Snow

I really, really had to get to the bank and deposit my tax return today. My rent was way overdue. I went out this morning...and am very glad I did. It was a gorgeous February day. Yes, it was still cold and there's still a foot of snow here, but all of the streets and most of the sidewalks had been cleared. Some sidewalks were still icy, especially on the White Horse Pike, but I didn't really have much of a problem running errands. I delivered my rent to my landlady and paid more of my debt to the dentist next-door to the bank.

Dad drove me to work and back. Work was very busy. It was far busier than yesterday, but still not nearly as bad as Friday. People must have heard the reports for the next storm on the morning news. Thankfully, there were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

(And since the roads are so clear, I may end up walking to work tomorrow. They're still too messy for the bike, but I hate relying on other people's schedules.)

My landlady Miss Ellie was just coming home when I arrived. She had her own mail and something in a tube for me. I helped her spread salt on her front stoop, then took my tube upstairs. Turned out to be the first part of my order from Rhino Records, home of the Monkees. They finally put out the Deluxe Edition of one of my favorite Monkees albums. The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees features one of my two favorite Monkees songs, "Daydream Believer," along with another big hit, "Valleri," and their last top-20 single until 1986, "DW Washburn." The big "Deluxe Edition" that was supposed to have appeared today includes 12 previously unreleased songs.

The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees: Deluxe Edition

Rhino was selling posters with the first 500 orders and 45 singles of Mike Nesmith's "St. Matthew" and Peter Tork's "Lady's Baby" with the first 1,000 orders. Guess which big fan ordered early enough to get both? I really love the poster I got, too, a shot of the group performing Mike's "What Am I Doin' Hangin' 'Round?" in the early second season.

(Alas, at the moment, it looks like it's either sold out, or they've had so many problems, they've stopped selling it. It took Lauren and me forever to order the darn thing. First, the site wouldn't show it, then it wouldn't show up in the cart. At least it seems to have gone through.)

It was such a nice day, I went for a quick walk in the neighborhood after I checked out the poster. I went down Goff Avenue to take pictures of the river. I'm not sure how well my shots came out. Turns out the landing that leads to the river had been plowed over. I almost went tumbling down the hill trying to get around the snow bank to get some shots!

Walked over to West Clinton Avenue after the batteries on my camera ran out. Visited the Dorias at Doria's Deli and bought a Diet 7-UP. They were fine. Unlike a lot of people around here, they don't mind doing a lot of shoveling and seem to have enjoyed the weather.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Football Wizards

Pretty quiet morning. I made gingerbread pancakes for breakfast and watched snow and football-related cartoons. Ran two more Donald shorts, both featuring Chip and Dale. One, in fact, was called "Chip and Dale"; it was their first appearance, and their first go-around with Donald. Donald's chopped down their home for firewood, and they want it back. "Corn Chips" is a variation on this short. This time, the chipmunks fall in love with the popcorn Donald's making over his fireplace on a wintry day, and the trio go into a prolonged battle to see who gets to keep the crispy treats!

I switched from snow to football cartoons after Donald and the chipmunks ended. Mickey Mouse isn't the first Disney character I'd put in Peyton Manning's cleats, but he did do a very cute football-related cartoon in 1932, "Touchdown Mickey." (Goofy's an even less likely Howard Cosell!) And Hello Kitty proves that girls can do anything, even be a princely penguin's wide receiver, in a very imaginative version of "Cinderella," "Cinderkitty."

I finally got a ride to work from Uncle Ken. The snow was slowly beginning to melt, but it was still pretty icy. Work was steady, busier than yesterday but nothing like last week. I'm hoping it won't be too bad this week, despite another storm being announced for Tuesday night-Wednesday. Maybe people got all their panic buttons hit last week...

Uncle Ken drove me back to his house for the Super Bowl. It was a full party, despite the weather. We had Dad (who had a toothache), Jodie, Uncle Ken, Dolores, Dolores' children and grandchildren, Samantha and her family, and a couple of friends of Uncle Ken's. Erica and her mother Miss Helen and Rose and Craig appeared later, after the game began. There was tons of food. Uncle Ken baked a chocolate cake for Samantha's sons Matt and Ethan, who's birthdays were last month and last week, respectively. (Ethan just turned 13; Matt is 11.) There was a bread bowl with spinach dip, Uncle Ken's sensational ham, a vegetable platter, cookies, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, potato salad, a second chocolate cake Erica and Miss Helen brought, and shrimp from Rose and Craig.

I walked back and forth, chatting with everyone. The game went pretty well, too, and halftime was awesome. I'm a huge fan of the British rock group the Who. There's only two left, but those two, singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townsend, can still put on one hell of a show. Roger Daltrey's harmonica solo on "Baba O'Riley" was just amazing. And I was thrilled when they played my favorite Who song, "Won't Get Fooled Again," as the finale. Everyone laughed when I sang along, but I loved it.

I left with Rose and Craig after the halftime show, so I didn't see the second half. The Saints were behind after the first half, but they apparently made a major comeback and won, 22-17. There will be partying on Bourbon Street tonight, and it won't just be in preparation for Mardi Gras!

Oh, and the commercials that I saw were much better than last year's. My favorite was the guys releasing the whale into the ocean. I have no idea what it was about, but it was funny.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Like the rest of Southern New Jersey, I awoke to discover my porch buried under more than a foot of snow...and it was still coming down at quarter after 7. I debated calling out, but I really live too close to work. It wasn't even the money this time. I figured they'd need the help, so I walked.

Once again, walking wasn't really a problem. The roads had been cleared, even Manor. I had a harder time getting to the road that walking down it. My porch and steps were still covered at 8:30, so I slid down my steps. That was fun! Better than sledding down the West Cape May Bridge. Of course, a foot of snow provides a rather soft landing, too.

Work was busier than I thought it would be. I figured we wouldn't have any customers all day, especially after Governor Christie declared a state of emergency sometime in the early afternoon. That's not to say we had a LOT of customers. I still spent at least five hours of my six-hour shift doing returns. I was surprised we had customers at all. Actually, after the last few days, I'm not complaining. In fact, I relished the relative quiet.

Not everyone was as happy with the peace. Though the store and most of the shops in the Audubon Crossings Mall behind us were open (one customer mentioned she was going to open Fashion Bug but close early if they weren't busy), our pharmacy and the bank in the store were closed. One fellow threw a fit when I tried to explain to him that a non-essential bank wouldn't open during a blizzard!

Actually, I got lucky weather-wise. It was snowing pretty hard at 8:30, but by the time I headed home at 3, the snow was down to the barest flakes...and when I arrived home at quarter of four, the snow had stopped entirely. There were a lot of people out, shoveling the two feet of snow on their driveways and sidewalks. A trio of teenage girls slid down Kendall Boulevard on a sled and took pictures of themselves on a cell phone as they giggled. Parents dragged their children past on metal and plastic saucer sleds. Men ran snow blowers, and kids had snowball fights.

I debated going back out to the bank, but my new boots were getting soaked. I opted to stay at home instead. I called Mom right after I got in. I was worried about her. The Jersey Shore got even more snow than we did. Someone at work mentioned that all of Wildwood had lost power! Mom and Dad were fine. Dad was out shoveling another foot of snow off their driveway. Mom was holing up inside. Unlike me, the Michael's where she works in Rio Grande had closed, and she was enjoying her day off. Keefe was with my sister Anny and her boys in the Villas. She said their power had flickered briefly early in the morning, but they didn't have any problems after that. I don't think we even had that.

Spent the rest of the evening cleaning the bathroom. It wasn't too bad, but I wanted to get it done, especially the bathtub. I baked gingerbread people after that with the last of the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix. They didn't come out too bad, considering I forgot the egg.

Watched snow-related cartoons this morning and during dinner. Probably the most famous of Disney's occasional forays into winter-themed shorts would be "Donald's Snow Fight" from 1942. Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie have the ultimate snow ball fight when Donald knocks down the nephews' snowman with his sled...and of course you know, that literally means war!

My favorite of the two Looney Tunes snow shorts on the first Golden Collection was "Putty Tat Trouble." One of the better Tweety/Sylvester outings mixes things up a bit with a city setting and by throwing a second cat into the mix. Tweety finds himself the possible meal for not one, but two hungry felines, and uses the snow and ice to his advantage to dodge them.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Snow Mob

Ugh. I wasn't able to dodge the work bullet this time. I got called in at 8:30 in the morning. I let the phone pick it up and waited a half-hour, but I really didn't have any reason to say no. I was going to go over to the Acme anyway this morning to pick up my paycheck and do my weekly grocery shopping.

Work was a total and complete madhouse. There were lines literally half-way across the store, even with every working register open and almost every employee up front. This is a bad day for Mother Nature to decided to dump anywhere from six inches to two feet of snow on us. First of all, we're still in the beginning of the month. Second, this is Super Bowl Weekend, and anyone who can actually get out to do so is going to be getting ready for parties. Third, today is Friday, which is when many people (including me) get paid, snow or no snow.

I told Donna I'd work four hours, 12-4. The snow was supposed to arrive by late afternoon or early evening, and I didn't especially want to get caught riding home in it. It actually didn't look very snowy riding to work. In fact, it looked and felt like an ordinary, damp, cloudy day in early February in Southern New Jersey.

I had a big shopping trip to make after work, too. There was no way around it. I had the hardest time with the Acme Yogurt I wanted. Most of that was almost gone, but I did manage to round up six Light flavors. (Wasn't as lucky with the plain. I decided to try the new Plain Yoplait Greek Yogurt instead.) There were plenty of brown egg cartons left (even with them on sale), and I grabbed one of the two remaining half-gallon skim milks. Tuna was the other problem. I had to really dig for the last of the Acme Canned Light Tuna. Had no problems whatsoever with the fruits and vegetables or canned white beans and cinnamon, and I make my own bread.

Shopping for one person who can't carry much on a bike has it's advantages, too. The express lines were much shorter than any other line, and I was able to get out with only a five-minute wait and a minimum of fuss.

Ironically, despite all the bedlam, it didn't start snowing until more than an hour and a half after I finally got home. It's coming down as I type this. Looks quite pretty, too. The whole world is nothing but white and silver. It looks like it's up to about 6 inches on my porch at press time.

And as it turns out, I didn't need my paycheck so badly, either. My tax refund check arrived in the mail today, all $1,097 of it. I'll deposit it in the bank tomorrow if I can make it there without trouble.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Balancing Storm and Sun

It was a gorgeous, sunny, mid-30s day in South Jersey when I headed out this morning for this week's yoga class. It was a pretty decent-sized class, 9 people with the teacher Karin, though not as busy as I feared it would be. I thought a lot of people would come today to dodge the bad weather we're supposed to be getting tomorrow. (Then again, the storm apparently isn't going to hit us until later in the afternoon tomorrow, either. I guess a lot of people will be going tomorrow morning.)

At any rate, we worked on our shoulders and on balancing. Yes, we did shoulder stands. No, I still can't do them. I did get the half-moon balance for a few seconds, though. There were a few poses I had to adjust or couldn't do because of my sore toe; the big one was Downward Dog. I had to get on my knees for that one, and it's one of the most-used poses in the class.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library after class ended. I spent an hour or so doing exactly what I did there last week. I organized non-fiction books upstairs...when I wasn't reading them, that is. I get distracted rather easily when books are involved.

My next stop was Cafe Antonio II a few blocks from the library for lunch. It was about 12:30 by this point, and they were rather busy. I finally just ordered a slice of broccoli and tomato pizza and water and watched the constant stream of hungry people coming in from offices or shopping or fund-raising for an area elementary school.

Rode straight over to the Haddon Township Library after lunch. I had a lot to return today, four DVDs and four books. There was a lot for me to return, too, piles of DVDs. For the first time, there were more non-fiction DVDs than fiction ones. Maybe a lot of people decided they wanted to learn things this week. I didn't take out any DVDs, but I did take out two more mysteries, a book on nutrition and exercise, and a book on resumes.

I chatted with the librarians after I finished. While they were nice, they really weren't much of a help. Apparently, the only library with openings is in Voorhees, which would require a bus ride. We'll see. I haven't had to ride the bus to work since I lived in Cape May County, and it didn't work out that well then.

Hit Super Fresh next, but that may have been a mistake. We've been hearing anything from 4 to 30 inches of snow for tomorrow afternoon and Saturday here, and it's getting to everyone. Super Fresh was mobbed. Took me forever just to get my chicken cutlets and maple syrup. (Real maple syrup is cheaper at Super Fresh than it is at the Acme.)

Briefly stopped at WaWa for a snack (fountain unsweetened iced tea with cherry syrup and a too-doughy soft pretzel) and at the Doria's for turkey and conversation on the way home. I didn't get in until quarter of 5. When I finally did get home, I took advantage of the nice day to do a few outdoor things I'd been meaning to do - swept the sticks and sticker balls off the porch and took out the recycling.

It turned out to be a good thing I did do the yoga class today. There was a message from the Acme when I finally got to listening to my phone messages that was trying to call me in. First of all, the Acme is the last place I want to be after yesterday. I'm only going there tomorrow morning for my paycheck and to grocery shop. Second, if Super Fresh was mobbed this afternoon, I don't even want to contemplate what the Acme was like!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Shades of Gray

Work was absolutely horrible today, and I was absolutely horrible at it. Nothing I did seemed to go right. People were cranky and upset, and I was cranky and upset. The lines remained long. Not only is it still the beginning of the month, but we're not out of the woods with the snow, either. We're supposed to be getting more - a lot more - starting Friday night.

I tend to be more frustrated with myself when I'm already tired and upset to begin with. Everyone says "don't be so hard on yourself!" It's just that when it happens, I don't see it as being hard on myself. If I was as smart as everyone says, would I have forgotten the stickers, bagged the wrong way, said the wrong thing, or given out the wrong change? Of course not.

There's something wrong with me. There has to be something wrong with me. If there wasn't anything wrong with me, why would I get so upset? I'd have more patience with myself if I'd just do normal things and not get upset around people.

The managers weren't happy, either. One called me mid-way through the day and gently asked me if there was anything the matter, because I seemed a bit slow. I told her about my toe. I thought that was the end of it, and I sped up as best I could after that. It wasn't. I was called into the manager's office after work.

Yes, they said all the usual things - "don't be negative around the customers." (But what if it's true, and I shouldn't have done all those dumb things?) "Don't be hard on yourself." (It didn't seem like I was being hard on myself at the time.) The one manager was frustrated because she thought I'd told people she was angry at me for getting me to speed up. (Actually, I thought it was another manager who had called me - I thought the other one was on the register at the time.) And I got told AGAIN to not ask people if they want the stickers for the free pots and pans and just give them to them. (But what if they don't WANT those stickers? I'm not doing that promotion, either. Not everyone needs more pots and pans.)

I held off until I got on the Black Horse Pike to cry. I cried all the way home after that, and then cried for another half-hour on the floor of my living room when I did get home. I wish I could have talked to someone, but there was no one at home to talk to. Everyone I knew was either at work themselves, or didn't want to hear about my work problems anymore. After all, I have a job. How can anyone who is working and has a job and is making money when the economy is so horrible have any problems?

My stomach is still in knots, I feel so horrible. I feel like a total idiot. Why can't I do anything right? What's wrong with me? Why do I fly off the handle like this? If I'm so smart, why do I do such dumb things?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I'll Be Back Up On My Feet

Spent a quiet morning doing laundry. I got an earlier start than usual, and everyone at Dad and Uncle Ken's were busy doing things around the house, so I had the laundry to myself. I was able to get the laundry washed and dried in record time.

I volunteered at the Oaklyn Library while the laundry was in the dryer. It was a cloudy, cold day. For once, Phil the Groundhog definitely wouldn't have seen his shadow, which I'm sure will make everyone around here happy. We've had an awful lot of winter already.

Went back and picked up my laundry around 12:30, and was having lunch by 1. I fooled around a little online before changing into my work clothes and heading out. Thank goodness that it was cold, but not cold enough that the little remaining snow on the ground was freezing, and there was no wind. My rides to and from work were fine.

Work itself was a repeat of yesterday - a pain in the rear. In addition to the beginning-of-the-month traffic, we've been getting reports of snow tonight and on Friday or Saturday. The snow tonight isn't supposed to be much, only about 2-4 inches...but the weekend snow could be anything from 6-30 inches! Or so everyone says. I hadn't heard anything about snow until they fussed about it at work.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday Monday

Pretty quiet start to the week. I made a Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake after breakfast, once again using the Prevention cookbook. It calls for low-fat yogurt and milk; there's no butter or oil in it at all. I added to the fiber content by replacing the cup of all-purpose flour with a cup of whole-wheat flour.

I did pilates while the cake was in the oven. I figured out a way to be light on my bad toe. I found a colorful neck pillow I bought at the thrift shop a few years ago and stuck it under the bad toe whenever I needed to get it off the floor. Worked very nicely. I was able to do the workout with a minimum of soreness.

(And the toe is black-and-blue, which I'm hoping means it's merely bruised and not sprained or strained or anything that'll take a long time to heal.)

I left for work after lunch, about twenty minutes early. I ran to America's Best behind the Acme first to tell them that the new trial contacts prescription worked just fine. I paid for 3 month's worth there; it was the only thing I could afford. They should be in by next week.

I wish I'd stayed behind the Acme. It would have been far less of a pain in the rear than being IN it. It's the beginning of the month, and that means all of the fun people who get their money now are out and about. I really wish some of these old people who can obviously do things for themselves would stop acting like a bunch of spoiled brats. I don't really have the patience to mollycoddle them.

(And by the way, that "snow storm" is just about gone. There's a little left on the side path going to my apartment, but anything that's out in the sun has melted. It's been in the mid-30s here and sunny, about par for the course at this time of year in New Jersey.)