Friday, April 30, 2010

April Showers Brings May Heat

I slept longer than I'd planned for the second day this week, which once again threw me off. I did have enough time to bake chocolate chip muffins and watch Young Sherlock Holmes. This will probably be the last time I'm able to bake until this upcoming heat waves subsides. We're supposed to be in the upper 80s by the beginning of the week!

Young Sherlock Holmes is an odd hybrid of The Goonies and the Indiana Jones series with some pre-Harry Potter boarding-school fantasy vibes. It's a "what if?" tale - what if Sherlock Holmes and John Watson had met as teenage boys at a boarding school and got into a wild adventure involving Egyptian cults, hallucinatory drugs, and an odd flying contraption?

Justin at Mutant Reviewers From Hell
compared this to the Harry Potter films and books, and he was right...for the first 20 minutes. Once we get away from the boarding school setting, the Egyptian back story, sword fights, and vaguely steampunk-ish feeling make it seem more like last year's version of Sherlock Holmes with kid characters or The Goonies in Victorian England. This is another 80s cult flick that I fondly remember turning up on cable often in the mid and late 80s. My mother used to love it. Fun, but really nothing you haven't seen elsewhere.

Work was almost exactly the same as yesterday - busier than earlier in the week, but still not incredibly busy. Business didn't pick up until I was ready to leave. Good thing, too. Once again, someone called out and we were short-handed. I just made it to the line in time with my apples, grapefruit, bananas, escarole, Earl Gray green tea, yogurt, chocolate chips, brown sugar, and salsa. The Acme was having a big sale on Edy's Fruit Bars and Ice Cream, too, $2 for 5 with a coupon if you bought two. No problem. I grabbed the Edy's Orange and Cream and Lemonade Fruit Bars, my favorites. (Their strawberry and lime bars are also really good, and I almost bought the new Acai Blueberry.)

It was such a nice day, I decided to go for a walk, run some errands, and have a quick dinner out. I put everything away, changed, and hit the White Horse Pike. It was gorgeous today, warm, sunny, and in the 80s. It was still windy when I went to work at 1PM, but that had died down by quarter after 6. I hit the bank first to deposit my paycheck in the ATM machine, then headed two blocks down the Pike to Taco Bell for dinner.

That may have been a mistake. First of all, they were pretty busy. Second, they weren't very good. I ordered a Rancho Chicken Burrito off their Drive In Diet menu and a Limeade Cooler. The Rancho Chicken Burrito looked nothing like the one in the picture. I think it may actually have been a soft chicken taco (it was in the Soft Taco paper), but I was too hungry by that point to care. It wasn't nearly as big as the one in the picture, either...or very good. All I tasted was spices, not chicken or anything else. They forgot to give me the Limeade Cooler and I had to ask twice for it. The Cooler turned out to be tasty, just sweet enough with lots of lime flavor, but it wasn't worth the lousy burrito. I won't be going back there. That's a good reminder of why I rarely eat fast food.

Headed a few blocks more to CVS next to pick up a few items I needed. I bought dried cranberries and apricots on sale for 2 for $3. I also grabbed shampoo (I'm almost out) and mouth wash (CVS' small size is on sale for 99 cents).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Frustrated Balance

I'd just finished getting dressed when the phone rang. Yup, it was the Acme. Could I come in at 11:30? Someone called out. No. I feel bad, but I really did want to get in yoga class and volunteering at the Collingswood Library. I told them I'd go in at 1:30. That would give me enough time to get home and eat and still have extra hours.

Yoga class was tough today. The emphasis was on hip and knee work. First of all, my knees get sore when they're pushed too hard. Second, I'm still not very flexible. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not grab both of my legs for bow at all. I felt so embarrassed, even though I knew no one was watching. This wasn't helped by a busy class, 13 including the teacher Karin.

I went straight to the library after class. I did exactly what I did last week, which was organize the DVDs. It was about all I had time for, anyway. Once again, they needed it. The kids' DVDs really get out of order.

Went home after that and had lunch. Alas, lunch (fish tacos and a banana) took me longer than I thought it would, and I was late leaving...not helped by accidentally dropping the cookie tin when I moved it to get to my granola bars! The cookies were ok, but crumbs spilled everywhere. I wasn't even able to clean it up until I got home.

After all that, work turned out to be a little busier than yesterday, but still not crazy. There were no really major problems other than the lack of help - I wasn't the only person called in today.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Great Outdoors

Spent a pleasant morning raking the leaves leftover from the fall and winter storms. I enjoy yard work. I don't mind helping Miss Ellie at all, and not just because she pays me. It's nice to be able to help out. After all, I live here, too. We both want the yard to look as nice as it can. It's good exercise. It gets all of the leaves and sticks out of both our ways. And it just feels great to be able to do something so PHYSICAL, something that isn't standing around.

It never takes me as long to rake the yard in the spring as it does in the fall. I was done in an hour and a half. Admittedly, I didn't bother with the patch of land by Miss Ellie's car, but the grass is too high for a rake to penetrate over there.

(And I'm really glad I got it done today, instead of waiting, despite some really crazy wind. It was in the lower 50s today, but it's supposed to be in the 80s by the end of the week. I'll do my side of the house on Saturday, but that rarely takes more than a half-hour even in the fall.)

After I got my $15 from Miss Ellie, I spent an hour having lunch and reading online before heading to work. Work was...quiet. It was dead for most of the night, and never more than mildly steady. I was a bit surprised, but we are in the middle of the week and the end of the month. Things should pick up this weekend as we hit the beginning of the month, the weather improves, and we get closer to our next holidays, Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Time Isn't On My Side

I didn't think I'd be able to sleep last night, but I did...too well. By the time I sleepily groped for my alarm clock, it was 10:25! That sort of threw off my whole day. I don't usually sleep anywhere near that late. I didn't help that my head was still achy and stuffed up and my throat was still dry and itchy. The rest of me felt fine, though, and I figured that was good enough to head out for my chores.

Laundry was first. It was just as well that Dad was the only one who was home (though I did see Jodie briefly) and I didn't really have much laundry to do anyway. I wasn't up for a lot of conversation. I have no idea where Uncle Ken and Dolores were. Probably out running chores. I crocheted Sam's scarf and finished the most recent Holmes on the Range story, The Crack In the Lens.

After I finally finished, I had a quick lunch of an orange and a granola bar and headed back out to the Haddon Township Library. Considering it was quarter after 4 by the time I rolled into Super Fresh, it wasn't busy and it hadn't taken me long to cross Cuthbert Road. I had few problems buying bunched carrots and parchment paper. (I ran out making cookies yesterday.)

The Haddon Township Library was busy when I arrived. I shelved dozens of DVDs, but I didn't do anything else and I didn't take anything out. I've taken out a ton of stuff already that I haven't read yet, and I don't think I'm really going to have the time to watch much this week.

I rode part-way across Newton River Park going home. The park's pretty at this time of year, with all the greenery and purple irises and yellow dandelions. There were lots of other people out and about, too, mostly joggers and dog-walkers getting a final stroll in before dinner.

I got home at 10 after 6, just in time for fish tacos for dinner. I was going to rake the yard tomorrow. We'll see how I feel.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day of the Sniffles

I did not sleep well last night. I woke up three times. I did manage to get to sleep after a while...but when I finally got up for good, I had a sore throat, stuffed-up nose, and an aching head.

It's probably just as well that it's rained on and off for the entire day. I didn't feel up to doing much anyway. I mostly crocheted. I did get my green-and-tan headband done. It came out very well; I'm wearing it now. Next, I'm going to crochet scarves for all the AG dolls and the Cabbies. I started Sam's this afternoon.

I rarely take a shower during the day, but I didn't think I'd be up to it tonight. Besides, I thought it would help my head. Nope. My head has remained stubbornly stuffy for the rest of the day. Even baking chocolate chip cookies didn't help.

I went online for a little while before work. I was hoping the rain would end by the time I had to leave. I really hate calling for a ride, so I just took the bike and got wet.

Rushing was almost pointless. It was steady-to-dead the whole night, with no major problems. Thankfully, it was merely misting when I rode home, and I don't think it's actually rained since.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mothers and Daughters

It was just as well that I spent most of the morning sleeping in. I awoke around 10 to a gloomy, misty, cold day. I got out of bed just in time for Brunch With the Beatles on WOGL. ("Beatles Songs That Were Singles In Other Countries, But Not the US" was the theme today.) I made chocolate chip-peanut butter pancakes and called Mom.

Mom and I ended up chatting for almost two hours! We mostly discussed doll clothes. Mom loves to make them...and I could use some for my girls! I don't have Samantha's pink birthday pinafore dress or Molly's striped jammies. Little Jess and Molly have no summer clothes besides the shorts that came with the Girls Scouts uniform. Felicity has three outfits, none of them winter. I'd love to have her retired Writing Lesson Outfit! Molly's hula outfit is missing the skirt, and the leis are dirty and in bad shape. (Although I will add that Molly may have hated her mother making her wear that red sweater out for trick-or-treat, but I adore it. The color is great and it's one of the most versatile pieces of clothing AG ever made. It goes with almost anything and any time period from Kit onwards, including modern.)

I sent Mom the patterns from the AGPlaythings site last night. Good ol' smart Mom. She downloaded them and saved them to CD. I may do the same. I may also at least save Addy's and Kirsten's as well. There's some patterns in their collections I like, too, including Kirsten's apron and Addy's wonderful Christmas dress.

I realized talking to Mom today that Felicity is the only one of my girls who owns a pinafore or an apron. Given my baking/cooking hobby, that will not do! I'd like to make Jess and the Cabbies simple aprons, Sam and Molly pinafores, and Felicity a plain pinner that isn't intended as an accessory for an outfit. Mom also offered to make a mob cap for Felicity (and she could make it to match either of her meet dresses - I have both), a felt hat for Jess, and Molly's "meet" handbag. I could even string pretty coral beads for Felicity's original "meet" necklace (I like that much better than the boring purple necklace she comes with now) and find a little inexpensive heart locket for Molly at a yard sale or Target.

It was still misting and chilly when I went to work. Work was long-line busy when I got in, steady and dying fast when I left. Everyone was in a surprisingly good mood despite the weather. There were no major problems, and I was in and out quickly.

I bought a roast beef hoagie for dinner, but I was so full from my pancake breakfast, I never finished it. I ate my hoagie while listening to The Dress Circle. "The Shows of Maltby and Shire" was the theme tonight. They're really better known for their work on movies and TV shows (including the Oscar-winning theme song for Norma Rae, "And So It Goes"), but some of their Broadway work is lovely, too. We heard from the short-lived Baby, the revue Starting Here, Starting Now, and another short-lived but interesting show, a musical version of the film Big.

And I'm glad I don't work late until tomorrow. It started raining hard about an hour after I got home from work, and it's been on-and-off heavily ever since, including a dilly of a thunderstorm.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I'll Never Get Away From Them

Slept in today and just crocheted for the little time I had this morning. Probably a good thing, too. Work was much busier today than it was yesterday, and there were more annoying customers, too. I was trying to go fast all day to keep up with the lines, and even when there weren't lines, I went fast so no one would complain about being stuck in line. One old guy made a fuss because I was fast, saying I was pushing him out. I assumed he'd want to get out! Who wants to hang around in a grocery line all day? The guy behind him thought he was being miserable, but I didn't mean to get him mad.

After work, I just headed home. It had started out sunny and gorgeous, but by the time I got home, it was cloudy and windy. I was dead tired from rushing around all day, too. I still ran to the bank to deposit this week's paycheck, though. It had to be done. I debated getting a quick dinner somewhere, but I felt bad about it when there was still leftovers in the fridge. Why buy food when you already have it? I had home-made chicken sausage patties from earlier in the week, escarole salad, sauteed asparagus and mushrooms, and the last banana-cranberry muffin after crocheting some more and watching The Great Muppet Caper.

It's supposed to rain all weekend and into Tuesday. God, I hope not! I really don't want to call for rides all weekend. I feel so horrible when I do that, like I'm a moocher, even when people claim they don't mind. And I have a lot of things to do on Tuesday, too - that WOULD be my only day off this week!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Welcome to the Weekend

Slept in and didn't do a whole lot this morning. I mostly just updated my DVD inventory with my newest finds. Made my grocery list, too. I try to do my grocery shopping on Fridays, when I get paid.

Work wasn't too bad today, on-and-off steady. There were some obnoxious customers. One of the older ladies who fussed and complained and gave orders about how her bags should be done without lifting a finger herself was so annoying, she got the older woman behind her pissed off! Apparently, this lady had once been a clerk and later manager in a card shop and knew how it felt to deal with trying people. I really appreciated her sympathy, especially since she was a big help with her bags.

My relief was on time, allowing me to get my own grocery shopping done. I wanted to make a mousse pie after that Orange Coconut Mousse Cream Pie came out so well last month. Acme has a brand of chocolate mousse mixes on clearance; I went with my favorite, dark chocolate. The Keebler chocolate pie crusts were on sale, too. I also bought fruit and vegetables, mixed nuts (I demolished those almonds I bought), frozen peas and canned cream of chicken soup to restock after last week's dinners, granola bars, and yogurt.

Alas, I think I put too much milk in the mousse mix, because my pie came out soupy. Maybe it'll be better in time for breakfast...

Oh, and I'm not overly thrilled with my schedule this week. The upside is more hours, which will keep those good paychecks coming...but the downside is later hours, including three 2-8 days in a row. A LOT of people went on vacation this week (since this week is the last week before our vacation cycle starts over), which will probably leave us short-handed as well. Not a good thing, since the beginning of the month is next weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Balance and the Thunderous Surprise

Started off a lovely, sunny spring day with yoga class. Karin wanted to emphasize leg work and splits and our connection to the ground beneath us on this Earth Day. Trouble is...I can't do splits to save my life. I can't even bend my knee all the way. I'm just not that limber. There were a few other people in the class who couldn't really do it, including two guys, but I felt sheepish. I've been going to yoga class for almost two years now. I should be better at this.

Stopped at the thrift shop next to drop off some video donations. Said "hi" to my friend Erica who works there and browsed. I saw some fabric that might make some doll clothes, but I didn't see anything else I really wanted. I didn't end up getting anything.

Rode two blocks down Haddon Avenue to the Collingswood Library after that for this week's volunteering session there. I put DVDs away, shelved them, and organized them. They really, really needed to be organized, especially the kids' DVDs. They were turned out and piled on top of each other. I turned them around and made sure only two or three were facing frontwards to keep things from getting too cluttered.

Had lunch at GrooveGround, the very hip coffee shop furnter down Haddon Avenue, near Genesis Counseling. I was hungry by then, so I had a huge "GLT" (ie, Turkey Club) pannini and a tiny cup of pasta salad (once again nixing the potato chips). It was quite tasty, just what I needed.

Counseling was my next stop. I told Scott about my busy month - Rose's pregnancy and the birth of Khai, my birthday, the nicer weather we've been having, my improved hours at work. We mostly talked about my difficulty with anxiety and talking to people in authority. I've been wanting to switch to the bakery, but I'm nervous about talking to the manager. I see authority figures and I remember having to go to the principal's office as a child. I know I'm not a child anymore...but that's what I see. I remember a child who felt terrified that she'd done something wrong and wasn't as good as these important people.

I didn't have any plans after that. I stopped at WaWa for water and two mini-York Peppermint Patties. Went next-door to Rite Aid and finally found this year's Entertainment Weekly Summer Movie Preview. I buy that every year. I'm a little disappointed with the cover, though. I'm not nearly as interested in Angelina Jolie as I was in Hugh Jackman and his amazing arms last year.

I rode home through Newton River Park, enjoying the lovely day. There was a small package waiting for me when I got in. I ordered another dress for my Samantha doll on eBay. I'd finally gotten her "Buster Brown" school dress, or as I like to call it, her "Monkee uniform" dress. It has six buttons going down the front with piping above it in a style similar to the Monkees' uniform shirts from their show. It was in perfect condition, though being a flannel outfit, it's a little warm for her to wear now. It'll be her winter outfit.

Spent the rest of the evening inside...and it might be just as well. It was 3:30, about an hour after I tried Sam's new dress on her, when the clouds rolled in. I was working on crocheting me a headband at that point. (Most of mine are really stretched out.) One minute, it was sunny...the next, clouds were on the horizon, and thunder could be heard in the distance. The storm didn't last long. It vanished within 20 minutes.

Other than that, it wasn't a very exciting afternoon. I dusted the apartment (finishing this month's cleaning), made Chicken Pork Sausage patties and green beans for dinner, and watched The Band Wagon.

The Band Wagon is one of my favorite movies. Fred Astaire plays Tony Hunter, a washed-up Hollywood star who comes to Broadway to appear in a musical written for him by his composer/lyracist married friends (Oscar Levant and Nannette Fabray, an odd couple if there ever was one). Trouble is, his friends have also turned to a current Broadway wunderkind to direct and co-star in it, Jeffery Cordova (British musical star Jack Buchanon). Cordova, generally a dramatic director, has very different ideas of how he wants to do this show. The light comedy originally plans somehow evolves into a modern-day Faust, even as Cordova plays devil's advocate. Bringing in a ballerina (Cyd Charisse) and her boyfriend who are at least a decade removed from Hunter doesn't help matters. When the show bombs in try-outs, it's Tony who comes up with the solution...and brings in a wonderful array of musical numbers set to the music of songwriters Dietz and Schwartz, including the memorable "Girl Hunt Ballet" and the new "That's Entertainment."

The delights never stop in this surprisingly insightful look at how Broadway was functioning and changing in the early 50s...and how there was still room for smoothies like Astaire and chew-the-scenery hams like Buchanon. Levant and Fabray may not have gotten along well in real-life, but they have some of the best lines as what's probably the stand-ins for (non-married) songwriting team Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Surprises

I slept in this morning. Watched the rest of Laugh-A-Lympics, then walked to the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering there. I was working on the DVDs when the kindergarten kids who have their storybook time at the library arrived. The kids seem to be having an Earth Day theme this week. Their teacher read them a book about water pollution and what we can do to keep our water resources clean.

After the kids finished listening to the story, I worked on organizing the children's section. The kids were really cute. I commented on the books they were reading. One boy said it was his birthday. I congratulated him and told him mine was a week ago. They asked me why I talk funny (I have an overbite that gives me a slight lisp) and why my eyes look strange (my right eye is very stigmatic; everything's one big blur when I don't wear my contacts or glasses).

The rest of my afternoon after I got home was fairly quiet. I crocheted, had the last of the tuna casserole for lunch, and messed around online. Clouds were on the horizon even as I arrived, though, and by the time I left for work, it looked like rain. It only spit a tiny bit on the way, though.

Work was on-and-off steady, with no major problems. The weather must have scared people off. According to my customers, the showers picked up shortly after I got to the Acme and hadn't abated since then. It was still raining when I rode my bike home, but it was late by then, so I just rode and got wet.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

He's an All-Star

Today was laundry day. It was also the day Dad said he'd take me to meet my new nephew. I brought my laundry over around quarter of 10, and after I put it in the dryer, we were on our way. It was a lovely day for it, too. The sun shown in a blue sky and perfect, mid-60s temperatures as we headed down the highway to Cooper River Hospital in Camden.

Cooper River Hospital is a huge complex with many buildings, but the maternity ward was in the main one. Dad said he and Jodie had trouble finding Rose's building when they visited them yesterday. We had less problems today. He only had to ask one man behind the desk, and he knew right where we were going. We did take the wrong elevator, but it didn't take too long to get turned around and get on the right one.

Rose and Craig were there when we arrived, but Khai wasn't. He was getting circumcised, poor guy. The nurses and doctor wheeled Khai in about ten minutes later. They gave Rose and Craig directions on how to take care of his wound, and then we got to meet the newcomer for the first time.

He was sooo tiny! He makes the cutest faces. His eyes aren't quite open yet. He makes little squeaky noises when he sleeps; Craig jokes that he's snoring, like Rose (and most of our family) does. I got to hold him twice. The first time, he got a little noisy, but I think that was because he'd just gotten through the circumcision and was feeling sore. I held him again after Rose fed him while we waited in the family rooms. This time, he went right to sleep.

Rose said that she's feeling fine and the operation went well. Craig's looking fine, too. He was a big help. He knew just how to hold the baby. They're both utterly thrilled and looking great. I'm so happy for them. Khai's adorable.

After we got home, I went straight back to my place and had a peanut butter and berry jam wrap for lunch. After that, I rode over to Westmont. I stopped at Super Fresh first. They always have good salad dressing sales, and I'm almost out. I bought two of Ken's delicious Healthy Options dressings, Italian with Romano and Red Pepper and Balsamic. I also bought Oat Bran, which Acme no longer carries.

Headed for the Haddon Township Library next for this week's volunteering session. They're in the midst of some kind of survey that doesn't allow you to shelve books, so there wasn't a lot I could do. I did take some things out, though. I found two cartoon DVDs I was interested in, the newest Backyardigans episodes and a childhood favorite, Scooby Doo's All-Star Laugh-a-Lympics. I also took out two more mysteries, the first Beatrix Potter mystery The Tale of Hill Top Farm and an American Girl mystery story, Secrets In the Hills.

I took the long way home across Newton River Park, partially to avoid traffic on Cuthbert Road, since it was about 4:30 then. It was a gorgeous day for it. There couldn't have been a more perfect spring day. There were lots of people out, too, walking their dogs and riding bikes. I made a brief stop at CVS but didn't get anything.

When I got home, I fed my cake craving with gingerbread while watching the cartoon DVDs. The Backyardigans episodes in this go-around were pretty strange. The first one, with rear-end-kicking princesses Tasha and Uniqua breaking out of their tower prison to the sound of girl-group music, was by far the best. The one with Tasha, Tyrone, and Pablo as a marachi band who ends up in space and encounters aliens who want to cover Earth with goo was at least creative. The one about Tasha's pencil jamming up the gears in a sock-making machine was also pretty odd, but very cute - loved all the catchphrases in that one. ("In all my years..." "For the love of socks!")

Scooby Doo's All-Star Laugh-A-Lympics ran on the USA Network's Cartoon Express block in the late 80s and early 90s, and it was one of my favorite shows. It's basically Hanna Barbara's version of Disney's House of Mouse...only instead of just hanging at a club, most of the popular Hanna Barbara characters of the 60s and 70s square off in a massive sports competition set in different countries.

I always rooted for the Yogi Yahooies, the team made up of all the HB funny animals, including the bear himself. The Scooby Doobies consisted of the 70s mystery teams and their various pets - Scooby and Shaggy, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, Speed Buggy and his humans, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels. The Really Rottens were, as you've probably guessed from the name, villains. They were lead by the most famous HB bad guys, Dastardly and Muttley. Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf were the commentators, and other HB characters would show up as "guest star judges" from time to time.

Unlike most of the HB shows of the 60s and 70s, I enjoyed it as much now as I did when I would plop on the couch for the entire three-hour USA Cartoon Express. These characters can be formulatic and sometimes a bit dull on their own...but toss them all together, with, say, Grape Ape sumo-wrestling Shaggy or the Rottens somehow managing to miss the finish line in a bobsled race, and you have some comic gold.

Monday, April 19, 2010

And Now, the Rest of the Story

The rest of today was comparatively quiet. I ran some errands after I got dressed and had breakfast. Stopped at the post office to deliver bills, then went a block down to the bank to deposit my paycheck. Went down to Dunkin' Donuts next to treat myself to an Orange Coolatta. I don't often go to Dunkin' Donuts. I'm not fond of their primary wares - donuts and coffee - but I thought a new aunt deserved a special treat.

I spent the rest of the morning announcing my new nephew's arrival to everyone on Facebook and on this blog, then browsed a site about American Girl doll collecting I discovered last month, AGPlaythings. I was looking up information on when Jess got her dolls (since she doesn't really remember) and what's available for them. I'm going to say Jess got them between 1997 and 1999, from the yellow, turquoise, and pink "meet" outfit Little Jess has, the two "dress up" outfits (the fairy princess turned out to be the Sugar Plum Fairy), and Felicity's orange floral "meet" gown.

Work was, once again, pretty quiet. It got busier during the 4-6 rush hour, but otherwise there were no problems beyond some annoying old ladies who give 600 different orders on how to bag but refuse to lift a finger to help themselves. Ladies, I know what I'm doing. Let me do my job, please.

Oh, and Dad called me before I left for work...or tried to. I was in the midst of my peanut-butter-and-berry-jam sandwich and apple lunch, and I tried to open a cell phone and eat an apple at the same time. Nope, it doesn't work. When I finally got through to him, he said he'd be willing to take me to see Khai and Rose at Cooper River Memorial Hospital in Camden tomorrow.
The New Arrival's Here!

Mom called me this morning around quarter after 9. Rose had her baby via C-section at 6:30. His name is Khai. He's six pounds, and I forget how many ounces. Baby and mother are doing fine.

I'm an aunt again! :D

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not a New Arrival...But a New Story

No, I haven't heard about my sister yet. But I did post this month's Monkees role-play story! Enjoy this comic tale about food, fiends, and wacky parties!

A Catered Affair
Awaiting the New Arrival

Most of today was a pretty typical spring Sunday. I made Whole Wheat-Oatmeal Pancakes spread with berry jam this morning for breakfast while listening to Beatles records. (The Beatles show was covering 1964 - I prefer their later music.) I tried calling Mom about a half-hour before work, but I didn't get her. Left a message, and headed out. It was still cool, windy, and partly cloudy, and my ride was still a bit choppy.

Work was fairly quiet for a Sunday. Between a big Phillies game (they eventually lost to the Marlins, though the Flyers beat the New Jersey Devils in their playoff game) and people taking advantage of the decent weather (we were supposed to have rain all weekend), I guess people decided they'd rather be elsewhere. Fine by me. There were no major problems, we had tons of help, and I was getting off at the same time as another cashier, had no relief, and still had no trouble leaving. I grabbed honey, fruit spread, good natural peanut butter (Acme's Wild Harvest organic brand is tasty), and soy sauce (on sale for a $1), and headed home.

I tried calling Mom again when I got in. I got not only her, but the entire Cape May County side of the family. Dad picked up, and I heard Keefe, my sister Anny, and her son Skylar in the background. Apparently, my sister Rose - the one I went shopping with yesterday who bought my comforter for my birthday - went into labor at 5AM this morning. Her boyfriend Craig got her to Cooper River Hospital in Camden, one of the best hospitals in an area filled with excellent ones, shortly after. She called Anny even as I talked to Mom on the family's line. I let Mom go to talk to Rose a few minutes later.

(And yes, at press time, Rose is fine and has not had her child yet. More on that as it develops.)

I called Dad right after to tell him about Rose and that I intend to do my laundry on Tuesday morning. Yes, he knew - he and Jodie found out from Craig on Facebook this morning.

After that excitement, I didn't really feel like doing much else. I baked brownies, crocheted, and listened to my two new cast albums. Ironically, both were well-done musical biographies. Gypsy is about 30s burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, though the real main character is her pushy mother Rose, played in the original cast by Ethel Merman in her defining role. George M! is 1968 take on the life of George M. Cohan, including more of his real life (such as his marriages and his involvement in the 1919 Actor's Equity strike on the side of the producer) than the 1942 version could or would. Joel Gray still isn't quite right for Cohan, but he and Bernadette Peters (as his younger sister) have a great deal of fun with the classic material.

The Dress Circle was a bit quieter. They did their second show revolving around Disney songs performed by jazz, cabaret, and Broadway singers. In addition to obvious choices like Barbara Cook's lovely "The Second Star to the Right" and the classic Peggy Lee "He's a Tramp" from Lady and the Tramp, they dug up a few oddities. A lot of my friends who get a kick out of the Looney Tunes-esque humor of The Emperor's New Groove would appreciate the inclusion of Eartha Kitt's "Snuff Out the Light." I liked the surprisingly good country versions of two favorites, Faith Hill's "Part of Your World" and Josh Grayson's adorable "When I See An Elephant Fly" (which I actually enjoyed much better with the twang!).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Winds of Change

Slept in, so I really didn't get much done before work this morning. Work was steady when I came in and when I left...but busy in between! We even had help. It was just busy. The sun was in and out all day, and it was blustery and chilly compared to what it has been, probably lower 60s. The wind made for a difficult ride to and from work.

Rose asked me to call her when I got home, so we could go shopping together and pick the comforter I wanted for my birthday. She responded right away and said "15 minutes." I changed, grabbed my purse and jacket, and waited for her.

For once, she was on time. Her best friend Colleen Reilly joined us as well. Colleen is a lawyer who lives in Harrisburg, but she's visiting Rose for the weekend. We headed for the same Bed Bath and Beyond in Cherry Hill where I bought my new saucepan back in late January.

It took me a long time to choose a comforter. Most of them were expensive, or too bright, or the print was too big, or they weren't a twin size, or they came with more than I needed. I finally broke down and said that frankly, I could use a new sheet set, too. The sheets, blankets, and comforters I have all came from different sources, and none match.

I chose a blue and tan set with striped print on the bottom and top and floral print in the middle. It's very pretty, and much thicker than my poor, worn green plaid blanket. Rose grabbed a pitcher for herself. We had to wait 10 minutes while they tracked down the price for that pitcher, but on the upside, Rose (who is pregnant and due in a month) got some advice from the nice lady behind the counter, and we got 20% off for having to wait so long.

Our next stop was the big Wegman's grocery store. Rose needed to do her shopping. It was really, really busy. We had a very hard time finding a parking spot, so hard that Rose had to wait. When we did finally get a spot, a guy got upset because he was waiting, too! Rose was right, though. She had been there first. He ranted at us, and we told him that we had the right of way, and he took off. What a jerk.

It was just as busy inside the store. Rose had forgotten her grocery list and kept remembering things and going back and forth as we made our way from one side of the massive building to the other. She says Wegman's isn't her usual store, either, and she doesn't know the layout that well. It took us a while to get out of there.

When I finally arrived at home, I immediately pulled out the new bedding. It's very pretty. It even came with decorative pillows. Since I now had some new sheets, I went through my old ones. I ended up getting rid of most of them. Both of the navy fitted sheets were worn in the middle, and the navy-and-white print fitted sheet was stretched beyond use. I may cut useful fabric from them to make other things, but for now, they're going to go. The green plaid comforter is just going to get tossed. I don't think I could even recycle it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rain on the Horizon

It was sunny when I finally rolled out of bed around quarter of 9. I didn't really get a chance to do much today. Mostly just made breakfast, read my new Sitcoms book, and watched cartoons.

Work was steady when I arrived and steady when I left, but not overwhelmingly so. Once again, there were no really huge problems. The worst was one of those people who buy a full cart-load, then realize oops, they didn't bring enough money, we have to return three-fourths of it. I really, really wish they'd learn to count. $60 in food stamps does not add up to $90 worth of food.

There were dark clouds on the still-sunny horizon when I finally got to doing my grocery shopping. I needed a lot, too. Had to restock my apples (Macintosh were on sale), bananas, grapefruit, escarole (the cheapest and most versatile leafy green I can get right now), celery, yogurt, and butter. Needed dried cranberries, on-sale ground turkey, whole-wheat pasta, and Weight Watchers Ice Cream Sundaes, too.

About an hour after I got home, it finally started showering lightly. It's been on and off ever since, and it's supposed to continue through the weekend.

Oh, and my schedule's not bad next week. Later hours, including one 2-8 day, but I also have two days off. I should be able to get more done, including more re-organizing, dusting, and a counseling day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Game's Afoot!

I slept in this morning after my long day yesterday. After I finally had breakfast, I watched most of The Great Mouse Detective while reorganizing the videos and the DVDs. I realized that I now have more DVDs than videos, so the DVDs were moved to the video rack and vice versa.

The Great Mouse Detective was made in 1986, at a time when Disney was just beginning to recover from the cutbacks and limited animation of the 70s. It's not their best film ever, but it's fun and very different. It's based after a popular series of kids' books (which I have read). Basil of Baker Street is the title character, a mouse Sherlock Holmes living in Victorian England, right under Baker Street. When kindly Dr. Dawson brings little lost Olivia Flaversham into his home, she reveals a case that leads right to his adversary Professor Rattigan...and a fiendish plot to take over England!

I have a soft spot for Mouse Detective. It's one of two Disney movies released in the 80s that I saw in the theaters as a child. (The other was the movie that came out before this one, the much-maligned The Black Cauldron.) Vincent Price said that his voice role as Professor Rattigan was one of his favorites, and it shows. He sounds like he's having the time of his life. There's some nice animation, too, notably some of the first use of CGI in a 2-D cartoon during the finale in Big Ben.

Work wasn't nearly as exciting. It was on and off all day, with no major problems other than some mildly demanding old ladies. I had no relief, but the rush hour crowd had slowed somewhat by 5, which allowed me to get off on-time.

It was a really nice day, sunny and warm. I changed into shorts when I got home, then rearranged the cassettes and CDs. I cleared enough cassettes out of the cassette shelves to make room for the Christmas and kids' cassettes. The Christmas CDs now share their crate with the last of the soundtrack CDs until I can get a second crate for them.

Watched the new Sherlock Holmes during dinner. I absolutely adored it. Picture a far more historically accurate and interesting League of Extrordinary Gentlemen, Indiana Jones gone steampunk, or Young Sherlock Holmes with adult characters, and you get the idea. This time, a very human Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself contending with his best friend Dr. Watson (Jude Law) getting married and moving out and the return of former girlfriend Irene Adler...just as the dead man from his last case, who had been killing young ladies via a cult, suddenly reappears...

Other than I wasn't that crazy about the occult plot, I had a LOT of fun with this one. Law and Downey were hysterical. No wonder Holmes doesn't want his buddy leaving the roost - they already fight like old marrieds. The open-ended finale was pretty intriguing, too...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Birthday Balance

Thank goodness after last year, when it poured the entire day on my birthday, I awoke to sunshine, fresh breeze, and mid-60s temperatures. I started the day with yoga class. Erik (who also does handyman work for Yogawood) taught today. He's the limber fellow who can do amazing things with his arms and legs, including handstands I could only dream of. Not surprisingly, he concentrated on standing and balance poses. He was far faster-paced than Karin or Micki, too. I and the other 8 students were hard-pressed to keep up with him!

My next stop was the Collingswood Library for this week's volunteer session there. I returned non-fiction, which wasn't a huge stack. I was in and out in less than an hour. Made a quick stop at the thrift shop after that, but I didn't see anything I wanted and Erica wasn't in.

I had no idea what to do with the rest of my birthday. Since I was already in Collingswood, I hopped the PATCO and headed into Philadelphia. I got off at 10th and Locust, down the block from one of my favorite stores in the known universe, Russakcff's Used Books and Records. A tiny shop in Washington Square, it's filled to the brim with books, imported CDs and videos, old posters, and crates of records. I ended up with three records, the original cast albums for the 1968 Joel Gray vehicle George M! and the 1986 smash hit Les Miserables (I had the cassette for the latter since high school, but it's missing a lot of music), and the rare soundtracks for the Jeanette MacDonald/Maurice Chevalier movies The Love Parade and The Merry Widow.

By this point, it was 1:30, and I was starving. Time to head to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch. Even at 1:30, it was as bustling as ever. I eventually ended up at a Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern lunch counter. I ordered some kind of pita wrap with chicken and a yogurt-dill sauce. I have no idea how to spell or pronounce what it was, but it was delicious.

Spent the rest of the afternoon browsing around my other two favorite Philly stores, the FYE and Borders on the Avenue of the Arts section of Broad Street. (After having to take a detour around City Hall because workers were blocking the Broad Street South exit.) FYE was having a gigantic 20-50% off all merchandise sale. When I asked if they were shutting down, a stock lady just said "Nope, we're overstocked and need to get rid of stuff." I'll take that.

Between the sales and my membership card, I did really, really well there. Got the $19.99 copy of the just-re-released Great Mouse Detective DVD for $12.80, and I grabbed a used copy of the oddball 80s action comedy Big Trouble In Little China for $3.36, marked down from $6. My best find was the 2-disc set for one of my all-time favorite musicals, the 1953 Fred Astaire MGM film The Band Wagon. Originally $27, FYE had already marked it down to $7.97. With the sales and card, it ended up being $5.11. Sweet.

I made my only real splurge of the day across the street at Borders. I've looked for the book Sitcoms: The 101 Greatest TV Comedies of All Time since my online guy-friend Matt mentioned getting it for Christmas in 2007 at his X-Entertainment blog. His favorite Get A Life isn't there...but a lot of MY favorites are, including All In the Family, Get Smart, The Monkees, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Jeffersons, Perfect Strangers, The Honeymooners, and Laverne & Shirley.

(Fans of Matt's will be happy to note that he's finally updating again after having been busy since late December.)

It was quarter of 5 at that point. I headed through rush-hour traffic to the 16th and Locust PATCO station. I was early enough that the train going home was only partially full, rather than stuffed. It was such a nice day when I got in, I took the long way home across Newton River Park.

There was even more waiting for me when I arrived at the apartment. Lauren asked me last week what I wanted for my birthday. She sent me CD copies of the original cast albums for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (my old cassette copy of the 1992 revival got caught in the tape player) and Gypsy (one of the few classic Broadway musicals I didn't have in any form), and the DVD for the other movie that came out in December that I was dying to see, the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes. (Which, interestingly, makes for my second Holmes-themed DVD of the day after Great Mouse Detective.)

I didn't have the time to peruse anything. I changed into good pants and sandals and met Dad and Jodie at Uncle Ken's house. They took me out to dinner at the Oaklyn Manor Bar down the street. We had a lovely time, chatting about Rose's pregnancy (and how eager Jodie is to take care of a newborn), my pride in my independence, Lauren's trip here next month, and the baby shower a few weeks ago.

When we got back to Dad's house, Dad brought out a cute little cake from Super Fresh, and he, Jodie, Uncle Ken, and Dolores all sang "Happy Birthday" to me. We had cake together, and they gave me cards. Dad's card was home-made, with a picture of me from childhood against a Snow White background. (Ironically, I got the Disney Snow White for Christmas.) I got $125 from the four of them all told.

I also got calls from Rose, Mom, and Erica, many birthday greetings from friends on Facebook, and a lovely e-card from Mike Waters in Oklahoma. Thanks to everyone who gave me birthday wishes!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rainy Daze

Slept in this morning; it was probably just as well. Today has been gloomy, gray, and chilly. I made my bed and crocheted while watching Sailor Moon first season episodes to combat the dark day.

Despite the gloom, the ride to work wasn't too bad. It was raining lightly, but not so much that I was soaked when I arrived. The wind surprisingly wasn't bad, either, nor was there any flooding.

I was almost late, but it turned out to not matter that much. The Acme was mildly steady when I arrived and mildly steady when I left...but dead as a doornail in between. April's not a really big month for us, especially when Easter's early. (Not to mention, most people who didn't get them done back in February like I did have taxes due this week.) My relief was on time, and I grabbed a whole wheat roll for the meatball sandwich I planned on having for dinner and headed home.

The rest of my night at home was pretty quiet, too. I continued spring cleaning. Vacuumed the apartment and washed the windows. After I was done there, I spent an hour crocheting before making the meatball sandwich, salad, and honey-glazed carrots for dinner, with lime-coconut ice for dessert.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just Frustrating

There are just some days when I can't seem to do anything right. Like today, for instance, one of my two days off. I slept longer than I'd planned, and I thought it would be easier to do the laundry after breakfast than run to the library. I forgot to call Dad and find out if anyone was using the washer...and he was, of course. I had to wait. Went to the Oaklyn Library while I was waiting to do my volunteering there. I didn't get lunch until after 2!

Dad's laundry was still in the dryer at 3:30, so I went to the Haddon Township Library for my volunteering session there. Did a lot of DVD returns today. I only found two DVDs of interest, another ballroom dancing disk and the last Barbie As special that interests me, Barbie As the 12 Dancing Princesses. I also took out another book on crocheting, this time with visual instructions, two books on nutrition for women (I still haven't been losing weight), and two fiction books. The fiction books were the most recent Holmes on the Range tale, The Crack in the Lens, and the Susan Wittig Albert "Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter" series, The Tale of Briar Bank.

In order to avoid the rush hour traffic on Cuthbert Road and enjoy the gorgeous, 65-and-sunny weather, I rode through Newton River Park instead of on the White Horse Pike and the back roads. I'm very glad I did. That was the best part of the day. Everyone was out and about. Kids rode bikes with their parents and chased each other in the playgrounds. Old people napped in the sun. People fished off the piers, jogged, and walked with friends.

It was well after 6 when I got back to Dad's. He'd already put my laundry in the dryer. I thanked him and went home to return the books. I looked them over a bit before going back to Dad's house for my laundry. He and Jodie said they're going to make me dinner on Wednesday evening for my birthday, probably something Italian. Cool!

I had tilapia in poached in white wine and olive oil and steamed asparagus for dinner while watching Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses. Unlike most of the Barbie As adaptations, this is at least somewhat close to the source material. The 12 princesses of the title are spirited lasses who enjoy a variety of sporting, musical, and academic activities...none of which their father or many more stuffy types see as fit for royal ladies. He asks his cousin Rowena to teach the girls "proper" manners...but Rowena has more sinister plans for the girls and their father.

I rented this one because The Twelve Dancing Princesses is one of my favorite lesser-known Grimm Fairy Tales. This is, in fact, only the second time I've seen it adapted on-screen after the Fairy Tale Theater version. From what I've gathered online, this was the first of the Barbie As titles released by Universal, but it still has the less-fluid, waxy Artisan/Lionsgate CGI animation. Other than that, this was fun, especially if you're a dance aficionado, with a better male lead (who has more to do and even gets his own animal buddy) than most.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We are Family

Started off a gorgeous spring day with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes and the Beatles on WOGL. "The Beatles' Break-Up" was the theme today, which mostly meant songs from The White Album, Let It Be, and Abby Road. Fine by me. The whole break-up thing got ugly, of course, but those are some of my favorite Beatles albums.

Called Mom after breakfast. We didn't talk for very long. She and Dad were planning on meeting Rose, Keefe, and me around 7:30 at Applebee's in Vineland, in front of the Cumberland Mall. They wanted to treat Rose and me to a birthday dinner, especially since Daddy hadn't seen us in a while.

I got in and out of work on time. Work wasn't bad today. It was busy all day, but never overwhelming, about par for a normal, non-football-season Sunday afternoon. We sold a lot of cakes and party food. In addition to a lot of sports action at this time of year (the Flyers just made the playoffs and the Phillies started last week), there's also many birthdays in April, including my own on Wednesday. There were no major problems, and my relief was on time (which, given he was one of the young men who are usually late coming from a second job, I appreciated).

Went straight home after work. I was going to do some work online until Rose and Keefe picked me up, but it was just too nice to sit inside for very long. I changed into shorts and a t-shirt and went for a walk in Newton River Park. It was a lovely day for it. The park was crowded with people boating, having picnics and birthday parties, walking dogs, pushing strollers, and riding bikes.

I worked a little on editing this month's role-play after I got back in. Rose said she and Keefe would pick me up around quarter of 6, but it ended up being more like quarter after 6. They'd gone to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to see something called "The Body Room," an exhibit about the human body. Thing was, all of the displays were taken from actual, preserved human bodies, some of which had been taken apart for the display. I understand that they were excited about it and it's helpful to science and nice to know how our bodies run...but it's kind of gross to hear people talk about it, especially half-way to going out to dinner.

They got so caught up talking, Rose missed the exit for the Cumberland Mall. She took the next one, which landed us in Millville. They turned Rose's GPS on to get us back on the right track. Thankfully, it didn't take us too long to figure out where we were going. Ironically, we arrived around quarter after 7-7:30, which is when we were originally going to meet in the first place.

We had a nice dinner. Mom and Dad were both in exceptionally good moods, and so were Rose and Keefe. Rose and Keefe had spent their Saturday joining Audubon's city-wide yard sale. They'd apparently made a tidy sum from it, too, including selling a stack of Rose's old law textbooks for somewhere between $50 and $60. Rose has been craving milkshakes and took Keefe to the best milkshake place around, the Pop Shop in Collingswood.

We shared an appetizer sampler and a bowl of spinach-artichoke dip. I had the Garlic Herb Chicken. Dad had a small strip steak. Rose had the Grilled Portobello Chicken. Keefe had a huge chicken Parmesan (he was the only one who couldn't finish his). Mom had the Fiesta Lime Chicken, though she claimed it was too spicy for her. Afterwards, everyone but me had coffee; I had tea.

Rose and I had a nice chat about her problems and mine going home. I don't often get to discuss my problems with many people who aren't a psychologist or a customer. Rose basically said that I need to be less hard on myself and more accepting, and that I need to push myself further and get past my fears. She says she's doing well with the pregnancy, after having put her foot down about Craig trying to push her into doing too much last month. She does have a man, two dogs, and a cat to take care of, not to mention trying to finish law school on top of it.

We're going to try to get together on Friday to pick a comforter for my birthday, which I really need.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Grease" Is Still the Word

I slept in this morning and just watched Donald Duck cartoons and ate oatmeal for breakfast before it was time to head for work. It was a lovely day for a ride, too. It was windy, but the sun was back out. The wind kept it warm without getting as ridiculously hot as it did last week. It's too early for that.

The nice weather kept people out of the Acme, too. It was dead when I arrived, and while it did get busy enough that I wasn't bored this time, it never got really crazy. My relief was right on time, and I had no problems picking up oatmeal, milk, and tea. (I forgot the tea yesterday and wouldn't have been able to fit the oatmeal and milk with everything else on my bike.)

I changed shirts after I arrived at home, grabbed my jacket and purse, and headed back out again. I deposited my paycheck in the ATM machine, then walked down to WaWa for a soda fountain Cherry-Chocolate Coke Zero. It was nice to be able to enjoy the lovely weather. There were lots of other people out and about, too - bike riders, a gaggle of teenage boys on their skateboards (who really shouldn't have been riding them on busy West Clinton Avenue), people taking their toddlers for a ride in strollers, dog walkers, people chatting on porches and working in their yards.

When I got in, I baked Banana-Dried Cranberry Muffins while watching the first Grease. Yes, Grease is still the word, and it's still a lot of fun...especially now that the widescreen DVD allows you to see more of the numbers. Every kid who grew up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s probably knows the plot by now. Sweet Australian girl Sandy falls for hot greaser Danny in Rydell High School in 1959, but his buddies think she's a little too sweet. Danny tries to show Sandy that he can be the upstanding guy she wants, but Sandy might be having her own second thoughts on being "too pure to be pink"...

What I like about the first movie is the 70s grit that has attached itself to this supposedly 50s tale. They may be adults, but they talk like teenagers do, even now. There's a surprising amount of sex talk that went right over my head as a kid but comes off as pretty realistic now, including Rizzo's dealing with her little problem towards the end. I also liked Sandy being Australian; I know it was probably their way of writing Olivia Newton-John's obvious accent into the script, but it actually makes more sense. In the book and original show, Sandy's just from a Catholic school in the same town. Here, she's REALLY a fish-out-of-water, not just from a different faith but a totally different country and way of living.

Friday, April 09, 2010

City of Brotherly Love

Today did not start well. First of all, I overslept and never did get to yoga. My cookie tin's been empty for days now, but it's been too hot to fill it. It finally dropped back to the 60s this morning (where it belongs at this time of year), so I thought I'd make Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies. I tried to toast the oats and coconut, but the coconut burned. They ended up being Oatmeal Cookies. I didn't even get a chance to put them away before I had to race to work.

Work was busier than yesterday, but still not overwhelming. The front desk ran out of money when I tried to get my paycheck cashed, but I overreacted and got one of the managers upset. I didn't mean to do that! It's my impatience acting up again. I did get it cashed, and she seemed ok later, but I still wish I'd kept my big mouth shut.

There were some annoying customers, too. While we stopped selling the stickers for the free pots and pans last week, customers can redeem them until the 15th. While I like the idea of giving out pots and pans, I think the way they went about it was all wrong. The stickers were hard to keep track of, a pain to distribute (we had to give them out from rolls in our registers and count every single one), and annoying to return. People put them all on the same card when they're buying multiple pans, or they get upset when they can't get the stickers back when they have too many for the pan they want.

The next time they want to do a promotion like this, they have to think of a better way to keep track of collecting money for it. Maybe they should use the store sales cards, like for the turkeys and hams around holiday times.

Thankfully, my relief was right on time. I was doing my weekly grocery shopping when I got a call on my cell phone from my sister Rose. She'd called me yesterday, and I called her back first thing this morning. Our 17-year-old brother Keefe was visiting her this weekend. Did I want to show him my place and have a chat with him? Sure! I was almost done, anyway. (Ironically, Rose called me as I was looking for a birthday card for her. Her birthday was Wednesday.)

I finished my shopping quickly and hurried home. Called Rose right when I got in, and she and Keefe appeared 20 minutes later. Keefe and I had a nice, long chat, mostly about our parents and my apartment and how close he is to our sister Anny and her kids and how much Mom and Dad are driving him nuts, especially Dad. He said he and Dad had a fight the other day. He was supposed to have worked on my stepfather's fishing boat this week, but Dad left before he got out of school for spring break, and he really needs the money.

Rose and Craig picked him up about an hour later, just long enough for us to chat and listen to one of my Led Zeppelin records. (Keefe's a huge Led Zeppelin fan.) Apparently, they're going to order Indian food for dinner. (I don't know from where.) Keefe gave me a bag of gifts from Mom on my way out. She gave me a small bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans (I love those), a container of chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (I love sunflower seeds, too), a huge Godiva chocolate bar, and a dress, a nightgown, a pair of shoes, and a pair of socks for my American Girls dolls. (The Michael's where she works sells the Springfield Collection line of 18-inch dolls and clothes.)

And I got a really good schedule next week, speaking of my birthday. Nothing later than 5, no really long hours (nothing more than six hours), Monday and my birthday on Wednesday off.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

All-Day Work-a-thon

Yup, today was my 8 1/2 hour shift. It was BOOOORRRIIINGGG! We were dead for almost the entire day. There was one short spurt around 1PM and another around 6, but other than that, I spent a lot of time standing around the register hating my job. Didn't help that I had a massive headache for most of the day and was really tired. I did have three breaks, including one half-hour lunch, but I didn't get the last break until about 45 minutes before my shift was done.

On the other hand, there were no major problems with the customers we did have. One woman fussed when she thought the stickers on the rotisserie chicken meant they were $2.00 (they're $6.99), but other than that, nothing. And my relief was that kid who is always late coming in from work; he was supposed to have arrived at 7, but didn't show until 20 minutes later...which meant I inadvertently got off 10 minutes early.

I even managed to get the budget done this morning before work. Yes, I did spend an awful lot last month, including more than usual on food. First of all, though, I got that check from the Union. Second, I ate at home for most of the week I was on vacation, which I don't usually do.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Keeping Cool

Started out another unseasonably hot day with work. The Acme was the quietest I've seen in ages. It was dead, not even on-and-off this time. It was just beginning to pick up a little when my relief arrived (on time). I've been craving ice cream, and the Acme ice cream brand, Stone Ridge Creamery, just put out four new flavors created by Acme employees via a contest last fall. I ended up with the most interesting-looking of the four, Red Velvet Cake.

When I got home, I changed into a tank-top, shorts, and sandals, and went right back out again. I had a small package I wanted to send my best friend Lauren for Easter. The Oaklyn Post Office was air-conditioned, and more importantly, totally empty. That's the first time I've seen that place empty in ages!

I just hung out online for a while after I got in and did some online research. My best friend Lauren will be visiting here from May 30th to June 5th, and I wanted to find out when some places were open and get some ideas for something to do on Memorial Day. It'll be a lot easier to plan our vacation here than planning a trip in New England is, since there's a lot less driving and traveling involved. I'm hoping to spend three of our days together taking Lauren to all my favorite haunts. One will be spent in Haddonfield and the Deptford Mall, one in Atlantic City, and one taking in the sights of downtown Philadelphia.

I got bored around 5:30 and just went for a walk down Goff Avenue, over to West Clinton, and back up to Manor. Though it was still warm then, probably about 85, it was also very windy. The wind felt so nice and cool! There were lots of people out and about, also enjoying the nice day. A mother and father helped their little girl ride her bike for the first time. Kids played baseball and basketball on their front lawns and patios and rode their bikes across the empty Vending Machine Building lot on West Clinton.

By the way, I ended up with two cooling desserts tonight. That Jello mold salad I made yesterday just would not set properly, no matter how long I left it in the fridge. No matter. I poured half of it into a pan and slid the pan in the freezer for Lime-Coconut-Pineapple Ice. The other half became smoothies!

And that Stone Ridge Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream is to die for. It was the first-prize-winning idea...and I can understand why. It really tastes like red velvet cake, from the "red velvet" chocolate ice cream and vanilla swirls to the cream cheese icing swirls. The calories aren't too bad, but it's fairly fattening, probably due to the cream cheese, so this will be reserved for special occasions.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spring Into Summer

It was too darn hot when I awoke this morning, already in the 70s at quarter after 9. When I headed out with my big bag of thrift shop donations around 11, it was at least 85, sunny, and windless. This is really crazy. It did get this hot last year in April, but not until later in the month.

I kept my running around quick. I just dropped the bag of donations off at the thrift shop and said "hi" to my friend Erica. The last thing I need is more thrift shop junk. Went to the Collingswood Library for an hour, then rode straight over to the Haddon Township Library for volunteering. I returned DVDs and kids' books at both places. Had a nice chat about my job frustration with one of the younger librarians at Haddon Township, too.

My next stop was the Bagel Shop in Westmont, my very favorite lunch spot. I had a Turkey, Swiss, Lettuce and Guacamole Sandwich on a Honey-Oat Bagel. They really overdid the guacamole, which made the bagel a bit difficult to hold. Other than that, it was quite tasty. I didn't get there until around 2, by which time the place was totally empty except for the TVs blaring CNN reporting about the mining disaster in West Virgina.

I went to the Dollar Tree next. I needed another basket, this time to organize the random items stacked on and under the shelf in my living room area closet. I went for a long ride in Newton River Park after leaving Westmont, partially to avoid the traffic on Cuthbert that made last week's library trip such a pain in the neck. Stopped very quickly at CVS; I was originally craving ice cream, but I didn't like their prices. I bought dried fruit and mouth wash, both of which were on sale.

Spent the rest of the afternoon continuing the spring cleaning, despite the heat. I'm trying my hardest to get rid of those darn ants. I swept out the areas under the sink where the pots and pans are and the "pantry," aka the two little shelves in the area behind the wooden partition, between the sink and the stove. It didn't seem to do a lot of good. I just found more ants on my bottle and can recycling canister, which I emptied and washed out.

And yes, I did organize my living room area closet. Both the living room and bedroom closets are a pretty good size, but I've just left them kind of messy until now. I used a larger round basket to hold the candles, wires, and other odds and ends that were on the shelf in the closet. Stashed the bucket with the cleaning supplies next to the basket, and the little sewing machine under them.

It might be just as well that I forgot to take out something for dinner, given how hot it was. An omelet with spring vegetables and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts worked just as well. I have a Jello-mold "salad" chilling in the refrigerator for dessert.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sunshine State of New Jersey

Awoke to an utterly gorgeous, really too-warm day. It was windy, but otherwise as summer-like as we're going to get in early April, upper 70s and sunny. I managed to kick myself out of bed early. That left me with enough time before work to take down the Easter decorations and get them in the back room. (The general spring items will remain up until early June, after Lauren leaves.)

Not surprisingly, given the weather, work was steady but nowhere near overwhelmingly busy. First of all, I worked 10-2 and was long gone before the usual 4-6 rush hour chaos. Second, a lot of people may have taken one look at the sunshine and dashed off to the Jersey Shore. (And more's the pity if they did. The Shore is supposed to be ten degrees cooler for the entire week.) Fortunatly, those who remained seemed to be in good moods; there were a lot of parents taking their kids shopping, probably to give them something to do during their week off. My only problem today was the young man who is my relief is one of the kids with a second job who is always late. I shut down and just barely finished on time.

I made an extremely nasty discovery this morning as I left for work. Some feral cat or the other (there are tons in the neighborhood) had dropped the carcass of their last squirrel meal on my porch, near the steps, last night. It took me ten minutes to bring myself to even just knock the thing off the porch and bury it under the five million leaves in the backyard. It wasn't pretty.

The rest of the afternoon went far more quietly (and less disgustingly). I changed into a blouse, shorts, and sandals, grabbed some books, and headed to Dad's to do this week's laundry session. I've done it on Tuesdays for the past few months, but since I had off early today, I thought I'd do it without having to rush.

Dad was the only one home when I arrived. I just read Murder Has a Sweet Tooth for a while, then headed for the Oaklyn Library after the laundry went in the dryer.

The Oaklyn Library was slightly busier than the Acme. A couple of teenage girls showed up at the same time I did, looking for DVDs to amuse them during their week off. A large, plump fellow with a mustache and a young girl were behind the counter today. They didn't recognize me, probably because I don't usually volunteer in the afternoons. I don't know why they wanted my card when I returned my book. Can't they just return the book without the card? I guess they're both new.

It was too nice to be in the library for very long. Besides, my mouth got dry and I started coughing like crazy. That happens at work a lot, though not often elsewhere. I headed to WaWa next for a fountain soda with syrup (got a Raspberry-Chocolate Coke Zero), then went for a walk down the White Horse Pike and back to Dad's.

Uncle Ken, Dolores, and Jodie were all chatting on the porch when I arrived. It really was too nice of a day to be inside! I talked to them, then carried my laundry home.

The nice weather's supposed to continue through most of the week, which is a good thing. I have the rest of this week's library volunteering planned for tomorrow and more spring cleaning, too.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter In Never Land

I awoke too early to the warmest Easter we've had in...since I can remember. It was already in the 60s at 8AM. I tried to sleep longer, but I just couldn't bring myself to on Easter morning. Old habits die hard, I guess. I wrote in my journal, then..heard the phone ring.

It was Mom, beating me to the punch on a Sunday for once. She was having an enjoyably quiet Easter, just doing things around the house on her day off. My stepfather is out fishing, and Keefe went with Anny and her boys to the opening day of the Wildwood Boardwalk. Mom said she'd probably join them later.

I hung around the apartment for a little while longer. I made a Cranberry-Coconut Coffee Cake. (Next time, I think I'll add vanilla.) I watched The Easter Bunny Is Coming to Town and It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. I had no idea when I was supposed to meet Dad and Jodie to go to Karen and Jim's house, so I headed there around quarter after 11.

Turns out I was too early. They weren't even dressed yet! I ran to CVS for contact solution, then came back and chatted with Uncle Ken and Dolores. As with last year, they were going to meet us later. So were Jodie's son TJ and his girlfriend Ashley. Alas, no Jessa this year - she'd opted to spend the day before going back to college with friends. Karen and Jim's daughter Taylere had apparently opted for the same, as had Jodie's younger son Jessie.

We finally drove up to Washington Township around quarter of 1. My older cousins Karen and Jim live in a brand-new housing development there, in a huge house with a big backyard. When we arrived, the older adults chatted while I played with Karen and Jim's son CJ in his swing set. Peter Pan is his new thing; all he wanted to do was fight pirates and find treasure, and I was more than happy to comply.

Around 2, CJ's best friend Craydon and his parents arrived. Apparently, the boys had planned on having a mini-Easter egg hunt in Karen and Jim's backyard. Karen and Craydon's mother hid plastic eggs filled with candy that had the boys' initials on them outside. There were 24, and each boy had half. If they found the other boys' egg, they could call the boy and trade them, or wait until they went inside. They were so funny, running all over the yard! Craydon's parents and I got some great shots of both boys searching for eggs.

I played with both boys at the swing set for a while, joined by Ashley. She turned out to be a very sweet young lady from Philadelphia who had left home at 17, worked in a Philly restaurant for a while, then decided she wanted to go back to school to study radiology. I had some nice chats with her after the boys decided to go back inside. TJ has good taste.

Craydon and his parents left for their own dinner at their house, then we had ours. It was a big one, too. Turkey, green salad with tomatoes and red peppers, green beans, stuffing, Dad's macaroni salad, and rolls. After dinner, we broke out Karen's cupcakes, the remaining bags of Easter candy from the boys' egg hunt, and my Orange Coconut Cream Mousse Pie for dessert. All were big hits. Karen's cupcakes probably just came from a mix, but they came out pretty well for someone who says she can't cook. I especially liked her heavy glaze-icing. That's one I can't manage.

While most of the family sat outside and talked politics, I sat inside with CJ and watched his newest interest, Return to Neverland. This is one of the better films to come out of Disney's obsession with making a sequel to everything in its vaults in the 90s and early 2000s. The year is now 1940, and London is getting smashed by the Blitz. Wendy Darling is all grown up, with children of her own. She's teaching her son Danny to believe in all the tales of Peter Pan that she loved, but she's having a hard time with her sensible daughter Jane. Jane took her father going to war very hard, and she's trying to act "grown up" and put "childish" things behind her, stories of Never Land included. It isn't until pirates turn up literally on her doorstep and she finds herself in the very place in her mother's stories that Jane begins to wonder if there's some truth to her mother's fantasies after all, and to fantasy and the very idea of childhood itself.

Peter Pan was never my favorite Disney movie, but in this case, it's not Disney's fault. It's more the source material. I'm not crazy about Peter Pan in general, which is a lot of fun (all the pirates and Indians), but also incredibly dated. I never liked Peter's character, either. I always found it grating. That may be why I enjoyed this so much. The focus here isn't really on Peter, despite the title. Jane's the main character; we see Never Land through her jaded eyes, though the eyes of a child who has seen unspeakable horrors and needs to re-learn what childhood is all about. The animation isn't bad for Disney's television division, either, which may be why this is one of the few Disney 90s sequels granted a theatrical release.

The older adults (and TJ) just seemed to talk forever, and I just got drowsier and drowsier, even after Return to Never Land ended. I watched TJ play with his Star Wars toys for a while, but even that got boring. It took forever to get Jodie and Dad out the door. I understand - we don't see all of our relatives every day, and TJ and Ashley have school - but I was tired and it all just seemed so LOOONG.

The drive home was long, too. It was fine until we hit barely-moving traffic on Route 55. We passed by police cars; there must have been an accident. Dad finally got off on the Deptford ramp, and we drove home from the Deptford Mall area.

I hope those of you who celebrate it had a wonderful Easter!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

There's That Busy Girl!

It was surprisingly cloudy morning when I got up, though not the kind of clouds that end in rain. It was sort of on-and-off cloudy all day. Other than that, it was lovely again, 70s and breezy.

I spent the early morning working on the pudding pie I'm going to bring to Karen and Jim's tomorrow. I pulled out the French Vanilla Okecker Mousse mix, since that worked so well for the Super Bowl. I added fresh-squeezed orange juice to the thickened mousse, then mixed in coconut and poured it in the graham cracker crust. Once that had set, I piled Cool Whip over the mousse and sprinkled leftover coconut on that. I had a little taste of the orange-coconut mousse filling, and it was yummy. I can't wait to try the whole thing tomorrow!

It was such a nice day, I left for work a little early. I wanted to check out the first yard sales of the year. There were two moving sales. The big one was at West Oakland, just off Kendall Boulevard. It was the house with all the collectible dolls and toys and things. I've never really found anything I liked that I could carry home from there after the one 60s mohair bear I bought a few years ago, and today was no exception. The other yard sale also proved uninteresting.

Work was...on-and-off busy, never overwhelming. We had all but two registers opened, but there were never really any lines. I was surprised, and so were a lot of customers. It was mostly people doing their usual weekly shopping or picking up a few random things they need for tomorrow.

Maybe it was because we're out of hams. Or at least, we're out of the hams needed for the $8.00 off coupon. They still had the free hams and the turkey breasts, but those aren't big enough to feed many family gatherings. Oh, well. Some people did buy their meat today, but at least there were no real problems. I had no problems getting out on time.

After work, I did a little random shopping on my own. I badly needed ant bait and spray. The ants in my bathroom and kitchen were really bad again. I haven't been able to find the Ortho stuff Linda recommended. I bought Big Shot Ultra Ant and Roach Spray and Acme ant baits. (And it's a good thing I did work later. They were out of the Acme ant bait earlier today, but they were stocked by 5.)

Though I wasn't as tired as I figured I would be, I still went out for dinner as I originally planned. I ate at Fat Jack's Barbecue behind the Acme after a brief stop at FYE to look for Easter specials. (They didn't have any.) It was only quarter after five at that point. They weren't really busy. I had the Fat (Pita) Pocket sandwich again. It wasn't toasted, but it did seem to hold better than before. I only needed to have a little of it as a salad with French dressing.

I sprayed for ants when I got home and set up the baits, then watched Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-Citement and The First Easter Rabbit. I've discussed the former here on previous April entries, but the latter is new to DVD this spring. It's basically a Rankin-Bass cross between Frosty the Snowman and The Velveteen Rabbit. Stuffy the Rabbit was once a little girl's favorite toy, but her mother threw him out when she got scarlet fever. A fairy turns him into a real rabbit and anoints him the First Easter Rabbit, a symbol of springtime and Easter for children everywhere. Along with three other con-artist bunnies - and Santa Claus! - he determines to return to his little girl and bring her an Easter filled with joy.

My sisters and I absolutely loved this as kids. It was on the end of a tape of random kids' movies and specials we got off cable in the late 80s. We knew it just as "Stuffy," after the First Easter Rabbit himself. In fact, I didn't know the real title until I dug around for it online. Alas, time hasn't been kind to it. It's still kind of cute, but it feels rushed, and it would have been nice if the hero and the villain could have actually met each other.

Here's a segment from The First Easter Rabbit on YouTube (for some reason, I can't find the rest of it). I also found two more classic Easter shorts on YouTube, the Silly Symphony Funny Little Bunnies from 1934 and the Looney Tunes favorite Easter Yeggs, from I think the mid-late 40s from Bugs and Elmer's designs.

The First Easter Rabbit: The Situation
Funny Little Bunnies
Easter Yeggs

For those of you who won't be online tomorrow, I hope everyone who celebrates it has a great Easter!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Springtime Balance

I did get up in time for yoga class this morning. I thought it would help me handle the crowds this weekend better. It was a pain in the rear to get to, though. The chain came off my bike AGAIN half-way there, for the third time in less than a month. I walked the rest of the way, glad that it was sunny, breezy, and already in the 60s at quarter after 9 in the morning.

Almost being late to class was not a good thing. The class was super-full today, 19 people counting the teacher Micki. I barely got a spot! I guess everyone was celebrating being off for Good Friday. Unfortunately, I just could not concentrate after the bike incident and couldn't lift my fat body or get into half-moon poses. I really need to start working on my weak shoulders. They don't get the constant work-out that my legs do!

A few people helped me get the chain on the bike after class, including one guy who worked on the same block. It stayed on long enough for me to get home. I took the suggestion of one of the women in the class and oiled the chain after I arrived. It's worked so far, which is to say, the chain hasn't fallen off yet. I really need to try tightening it next week or seeing if I can ask my neighbor to do it.

I treated myself to coconut-lemon whole wheat pancakes for an early lunch. I normally have them for Sunday breakfast, but I'm going to have enough junk on Sunday. I'll have something simple on Sunday, like eggs.

Headed to work after lunch. Work wasn't as bad as I assumed it would be. I figured that, between people being off for Good Friday and this being the beginning of the month, it would be mobbed all day. Actually, it was only long-lines busy during the usual 4-6 rush hour. Some of the managers tried to ask me to stay until 8, but I wanted to get dinner and told them 7. It had calmed down so much by 6:30, I didn't even need to stay that long. My relief was (just) on time.

Except for one day, next week's schedule is an improvement over last week's. I have Easter Day off and Tuesday off again, and I work early enough every day that I'll be able to get a lot more done than I did this week. (Good thing - I plan on continuing spring cleaning.) The exception is Thursday, when I work my first 8 hour shift in months, 11AM-7:30PM. I don't know what's going on there, especially since most kids are off of school this week. It probably has to do with there being a LOT of people on vacation this week, including a quarter of the administrative staff.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

No Foolin'

The gorgeous weather we've been hearing about over the past few days is no April Fool's joke. I awoke to at least 60 degrees at 8AM and sunshine, without the wind that was such a pain yesterday. It probably got into the mid-70s.

Spent an hour online browsing through Lands' End and LL Bean for work pants. I'm tired of buying pants that don't fit right, or have silly so-called "fashionable" wide legs that make it difficult to ride bikes or even walk properly. I want pants that sit at the waist, where pants are supposed to sit, and that will allow me to work without tripping. I think I'm going to buy these from Lands' End, the Women's Regular Knit Sports Pants. They're the "traditional" (meaning, where they belong) fit, and they'll be comfortable at work.

Work wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be when I arrived at 11. I figured we'd have long lines all day, but it was really more like on and off. There were a couple of really big orders and some fairly annoying people, but that may have had to do with this being the first day of the month. This included one older woman who had expected to pay with her Food Stamps card and discovered that she hadn't gotten her card refilled yet. Not everyone gets their Food Stamp money on the first day of the month. Good thing she didn't have a big order.

My relief was one of the young ladies who is always on time, and is early more often than not. This allowed me to do some early grocery shopping. I normally shop on Fridays, but that's only because I get paid that day and it's the first day of our sales. However, I got my vacation money two weeks ago, the Friday before my vacation...which means I don't get a paycheck this week. That's fine. I have plenty of money in the bank, even after leaving my rent with Miss Ellie this morning.

Besides, we're probably going to get slammed tomorrow. Many people have off early on Good Friday or are off all together, including most kids, and will be buying their Easter goodies. That's not counting this being the beginning of the month, or people who shop on the weekends because they work the rest of the week.

I mostly bought fruit and vegetables. Bought more ground chicken on sale, since those meatballs came out so nicely. Was out of dried cranberries, brown sugar, and granola bars. Found an Easter card for Uncle Ken and Dolores. Stocked up on yogurt. I bought flaked coconut, a graham cracker pie crust, and the Acme's generic Cool Whip for the Orange-Coconut Mousse Pie I plan on bringing to Karen and Jim's on Sunday. (I was debating making an Orange-Coconut Cake, but it looks like it's going to be too hot for baking by Saturday evening.)

It was so nice when I finally headed home, the sweater I wore this morning rode in my bike basket with the bag of groceries. Felt nice to ride home in my shirt sleeves in early April!