Monday, May 31, 2010

Blackberry Memorial Day

First of all, I forgot to mention this morning that I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day and honored our fighting men, past and present.

I spent a little more time online after I posted on here. Lauren got up around quarter after 11, and we had tea and cereal for breakfast while watching military-oriented cartoons (the Donald Duck in the army series, two Looney Tunes, and one Pink Panther). We let the Pink Panther run while we cleaned up from breakfast and lunch.

We went for a walk around the neighborhood next. I wanted to show Lauren most of Oaklyn that we passed by yesterday on our way here. We stopped at WaWa and bought fountain sodas with those cool syrups. We headed down the White Horse Pike, past 7-11 and Taco Bell and around the corner past CVS.

We ended up at Dad's house. This seems to be pretty par for the course for Memorial Day on either side of the family. "We're not doing anything" turns into "we're inviting the entire neighborhood and their friends for a party." My cousin Amber and her boyfriend and his daughter Ella, Amber's younger sister, and Dolores' grandchildren Mercedes and Blake were all in the pool when we arrived. Their mothers and Jodie were watching them. Dad, Uncle Ken, Dolores, and some more of her grown children were inside, watching the Phillies game. (They eventually lost to the Braves, 9-3.)

I had a turkey sandwich for a late lunch. Lauren just had chips and fruit salad - she had a sandwich at my place. We didn't wear bathing suits and the pool was busy with kids anyway, so we just stuck our legs in the pool. That felt just as nice. The pool was a little chilly going in, but surprisingly warm once you got used to it. It's rarely warm this early.

We headed back to my place around 4. I wanted to show Lauren Veteran's Park next door before we called it a day. It was hot, humid, and hazy, and our walk down the tree-less White Horse Pike left us both sweating buckets. As we entered the park, Lauren pointed to a vine-y bush a few paces away. "Oh, those are blackberries!" she exclaimed. "And they're really ripe!"

And so they were. Lauren had found a bona-fide blackberry bush. We hurried back to my apartment for bowls and loaded them with as much as we could knock in. The berries were amazing. I'd never tasted such huge, sweet blackberries. I used to see blackberry bushes in Cape May growing wild...but even they never tasted as good as this. And I've never seen that bush until Lauren pointed it out! Between the two of us, we (and our very purple fingers) got enough blackberries to snack on, and maybe even make a cobbler or tart if it cools off enough to use the stove later in the week.

We spent the rest of the evening cooling off inside, watching the original Meatballs with Bill Murray and another Bowery Boys movie from their mid-50s Allied Artists days, Calling Las Vegas. (We figured the latter was appropriate for our trip to Atlantic City on Wednesday.)

Speaking of, tomorrow will be our first of two days exploring the neighborhood. We'll do the laundry, then ride over to Westmont (I have books due at the Haddon Township Library) and Collingswood and maybe even take the train into Haddonfield.
A Day of Preparation, A Night of Movies

I spent most of yesterday getting ready for Lauren to arrive. I got up earlier than usual for a Sunday and was able to do some cleaning while the Brunch With the Beatles show was on. (The animated film Yellow Submarine was the theme yesterday.) I tried calling Mom during the Beatles, but I never got through to her.

After the show ended, I went for a walk to CVS. I stopped by Dad's house on the way there to say "hi" to Uncle Ken and Dolores (who are finally back from Texas) and remind Dad about picking Lauren up that evening. He said he and Jodie had gotten a last-minute invitation to our cousins Karen and Jim's house, but they'd be home in time for Lauren's train.

Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous. It was sunny, hot but not humid, and breezy. I had a fine walk to CVS to pick up laundry detergent, dryer sheets, brush picks for my teeth, and a card to welcome Lauren. After CVS, I headed in the other direction down the White Horse Pike to WaWa for sliced turkey, milk, and a Berry-Cherry Coke Zero (i.e, fountain Coke Zero with raspberry and cherry syrup).

I had a quick lunch when I got home, then worked on tidying up the apartment. I vaccuumned, did a quick dusting, and washed dishes. When I got bored with that, I went for a walk down to the river at Goff Avenue and back around to West Clinton Avenue.

There was a message for me when I got home. Turns out Dad and Jodie hadn't gotten home from Karen and Jim's in time and were going to have Erica, Jodie's neighbor and friend, drive Lauren here. I wasn't happy. First of all, I told Dad and Jodie for months that Lauren was arriving today. They could have asked Karen for dinner earlier or left and eaten at home, or even told Karen and Jim that they had things to do today, could we come at another time?

It wasn't fair to Erica, either. The thrift shop was elbow-to-elbow busy yesterday. She was nice about it, but she said she'd wanted to get a nap in. Given what the May Fair was like yesterday, I couldn't blame her.

When all was said and done, everything seemed to go fine, though. Lauren arrived right on time and said she had no traveling problems anywhere. We got home just fine and spent the rest of the night watching Bowery Boys movies and cartoons. (Lauren is a big fan of the Bowery Boys.)

We're just hanging out today, since many stores are closed, though we may also end up going to a mall. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May Fair Affair

It was a bit cloudy when I headed out this morning. My first stop were two yard sales in Oaklyn. One was on Cedar Avenue, the other that family on West Oakland that sells the collectibles. Neither had anything of interest. I moved on to the bank, which was dead; I was in and out quickly after a short chat with the cashier about my vacation and Lauren's visit.

The main reason I wanted off today was to attend the May Fair in Collingswood. The May Fair is a huge craft show/car show/midway that runs on Haddon Avenue the Saturday before Memorial Day. I've seen it every year I've lived here...but I've never been able to see everything. I always had to rush to get to work. I'm tired of rushing.

I was exploring around Collingswood's City Hall when I ran into Rose, Craig, Khai (snuggled in his daddy's arms), and their puppies Toby (I forget what mix he is, besides "big" and "cowardly") and Kelsey (a very frisky miniature pincher). They were strolling the Fair as well. Rose said they'd just come from the Classic Car Show, which was so long, they didn't take in half of it!

I did better. I saw all but the last few before I got bored and turned back. I'm not really a huge car fan, but I did see some interesting cars. My favorite was an absolute gorgeous, mint cherry-red Bel Air. I'll have to tell my nephew Skylar, who is a huge fan of The Love Bug, that I saw Herbie in person...or at least a late 60s-era Volkswagen painted to look like Herbie.

The rest of the Fair was much busier. I browsed in a doll clothes seller (though I didn't buy anything). I ran into Rose, Craig, and their brood again at the Farm Market (which is on a side street and absorbed into the main Fair for this week). They'd apparently come for the Farm Market and hadn't even known about the Fair. (That happened to me in 2007, when I first started going to the Farm Market.) I ended up buying apples, asparagus, grapefruit, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, strawberries, and a surprise for our dinner this week.

Kept strolling down Haddon Avenue, this time to the Midway. The "midway" is several blocks of kid-oriented games, rides, and booths from the PNC Bank and Bank of America to the Philly Pretzel Factory shop. I'm too old to ride the midway, but they're still cute to look it. I love the little Ferris Wheel, "helicopters," Whip Ride, and bounce houses. There were pony rides in a church parking lot and a train-like "fire truck" on a side street. I bought a present for Lauren from a booth here, but didn't get anything else.

By 11, the clouds were gone and the sun had come out. While a nice breeze prevented it from getting as hot as it could have, it wasn't as cool as the morning, either. I bought a bottle of water from a booth on the corner of Collings and Haddon Avenues, then headed for Oaklyn.

I was kind of tired by then, but I did make one last stop in Oaklyn. I saw signs for a yard sale on Kendall Boulevard, across from the ramp into Oaklyn from the Black Horse Pike, on my way home from work yesterday. They had a couple of good records that I picked up - Jackie Gleason, the Andy Williams Christmas album, a collection of 50s love songs, and a two-disc "best of" collection of early Rod Stewart.

Went straight home after that. Spent the rest of the afternoon doing things around the apartment. I hung out online. I scrubbed the inside and the outside of the refrigerator, which I hadn't done in the five years I've lived here. It was disgusting, especially the top. I crocheted. (The "hat" I was working on for Molly may turn into a purse.) I made another surprise for Lauren, this one home-made. I watched Road to Rio and National Lampoon's Vacation.

And tomorrow...Lauren arrives around 7:30. I can't wait! I'm going to spend the day picking up around here and grabbing a few last things I need.

And...go Flyers, who are 5-5 with the Chicago Blackhawks at press time. Come on boys, you can do it!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted

Since I awoke to a much cooler morning than earlier this week, I decided to start off the day with some cookie baking. I made my favorite Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie recipe that I pulled out of Prevention Magazine. They went quite well, coming out nice and soft, much better than the last time I made them.

I made a rather nasty discovery in the bedroom. There were ants swarming around a patch on my computer desk. I could have sworn I sprayed in here when I dusted! Oh well, I sprayed again. I sprayed in the kitchen, too.

Spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the kitchen. It was actually in worse shape than the bathroom for once. I guess I've been eating at home a lot. I dusted under everything, all the food and plates and containers in the cabinets and the spice bottles and salt and pepper shaker and appliances between the sink and the stove. I'll scrub the refrigerator tomorrow.

I finished just in time to go to work. Work was steady all night, with no major problems. I was able to get in and out with no relief. Good thing, too, because I had a LOT of grocery shopping to do for my vacation. There were so many things I needed to restock - nuts, yogurt, cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, dried fruit, lemon juice, Quaker Oat Squares, barbecue sauce, and packs of fish. I also bought pretzels for a snack while Lauren's here and things to make a surprise.

And my schedule next week is...vacation! I'm off from tomorrow until next Saturday, thank goodness. Lauren will be arriving Sunday evening. There's still some things I want to get done before then - clean the fridge, buy laundry detergent and dryer sheets, go to the May Fair in Collingswood tomorrow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Close To Balancing

Started today with yoga class. I almost didn't make it, but I'm glad I did. It went very well. Once again, it was a busy class, about 14 counting the teacher Karin. We concentrated on headstands and preparing for them today. I'm now able to do a half-handstand, with my feet on the wall. I can even take one foot off the wall. I'm not quite ready to get on my head yet...but I'll take this! It's a big improvement, and I'm very happy with it.

After a quick stop at the thrift shop to drop off donations and say "hi" to my friend Erica, I headed for the Collingswood Library. With most people there concentrating on the kids' Storybook Hour, I just returned DVDs and organized them.

Went straight home after class. There was something I wanted to do last night, but my Internet was running slow. Now that it's (literally) up to speed again, I can cancel my Weight Watchers account. I haven't been doing it as much in the past year or so, and it doesn't seem to be helping me as much as it used to. I'll still keep track of what I eat in my food journal, and I'll still try to lose weight and eat the right things, but I'm going to try to find other ways of doing it that works for me now.

Though it was still sunny by the time I headed out to work, there was a very nice breeze. My bike rides today were quite pleasant.

Work was mostly steady all night. I had a few problems with people from Camden trying to buy every sale cheap to re-sell at chop-shops. I'm through playing their games. They can buy however many the sale says, and that's it. No more. They can't come back in and get more, they can't use 5,000 coupons and hold the line up, and they can't get the coupons back after they whine that the order isn't as cheap as they want it to be. I'm not enabling them to do something that's essentially illegal and takes inventory away from customers who need it.

It was much, much cooler when I headed out. Sometime around 7, the sky suddenly clouded over. It had rained very briefly, but all it was when I went home was windy and cloudy. It still hasn't rained, but I've heard thunder and it's downright cold out there. Needless to say, I turned the air conditioner off.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

Since I got up early this morning, I started my day by getting rid of some very overripe bananas and made Banana-Honey Muffins from the muffin cookbook my friend Jen gave me last Christmas. I've been wanting to do some baking, and I figured I'd get it done before it got too hot.

Good thing I did, because it ended up being VERY hot today, into the 90s. I was sweating already by the time I headed out for this morning's errands. My first stop was PNC Bank to see if the error with my college payments check was fixed. Yes, it was.

I headed back towards Oaklyn and did library volunteering there next. The kids were there with their teacher when I arrived, so I just organized the DVDs for a while. After they left, I did the children's section.

My next stop after leaving the Library was WaWa. I needed milk, and I decided to grab the $2.99 roast beef hoagie that was on sale as part of WaWa's annual summer "Hoagiefest."

By this point, it was roasting. I headed home, had my hoagie and the last of a bag of pretzels for lunch, and did chores around the house. I've been wanting to wash the window blinds forever, but I discovered this afternoon that I really have no actual way to do it. I took the four in the living area/kitchen outside, but I ended up losing the hook for the knob that closes the blinds on one and almost broke two others. I tried washing them on the porch, but they just got dirty. I tried laying them on my two deck chairs, but they lay awkwardly. I ended up wiping the other four down indoors.

I also got the bathroom done this afternoon. I just did it not too long ago, but I want everything to be as squeaky clean as possible for my visitors next week. It didn't take as long to do as I thought it would, considering I did a thorough job. I was finished with time to work on crocheting and adding Captain Ron to my DVD inventory before making lemon pepper salmon and spinach salad for dinner.

My co-worker Jade picked me up at 7:30 to head to the TreeHouse Cafe in Audubon for their Open Mic Night. Apparently, several of her co-workers in her other job play there. The TreeHouse Cafe is a coffee house in Audubon that's popular with families, college students, local merchants, and mothers looking for a place to meet and talk about their children.

Open Mic Night was pretty much what you think it is. Six guys and two women played acoustic guitar and sang along. One Autistic guy did a stand-up routine about his reaction to the Flyers' win that wasn't bad (but probably would have been even better if he'd finished it). The ladies and two of the guys were quite good. One lady did a wonderful version of Sheryl Crow's "Picture"; the other did a lovely "Hallelujah". Most of the guys did their own material, but the last one performed several songs by Boston and Journey. Other than flubbing lines on "Don't Stop Believin," he was excellent. The guy before him was loud, fast, and quite a good singer. The remaining four guys were good-to-decent guitarists, but not-great singers...including Jade's friend.

Jade and her friends chatted long after the place closed, but I was getting restless. I had enjoyed the performances, but I didn't really know these people. I'm not good at talking with people I don't know. It's something I need to try to work on; that "comfort zone" thing again. Otherwise, I had a good time and may try to get up there again some night. Jade's a really sweet girl, too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Attitude

I slept in, then started today's errands and chores. First stop was the bank to see if Nelnet had fixed the errant check. They hadn't as of 11:30, but they have until midnight. I'll stop back in tomorrow.

The next stop was the laundromat a block or so down from PNC Bank. Dad called me yesterday to tell me that his dryer was permanently dead and he had to get a new one that wouldn't come until Thursday. After the incident last week with the dryer and Jessa and the mall, I just didn't feel like waiting anymore or flaunting my father's generosity. It's nice of him to let me do it at his house, but with Rose doing baby clothes over there now and Jessa home from college, there's too much going on. I'm tired of waiting in line for machines that aren't even mine and trying to make everyone work around my schedule.

The laundromat was much smaller and cleaner than the one I went to in Wildwood. That one had been painted in dull shades of yellow and brown. The TV was always on Jerry Springer, and I frequently saw cockroaches skittering across the floor. The laundromat on the White Horse Pike used same washing machines and dryer models, but the colors were a cheerful, bright turquoise and white, with a really cool retro 50s pattern on the tables. I didn't see any critters that weren't human, either. Even the game shows and soap operas on the TV were an improvement.

They weren't even that expensive. The washing machine cost two dollars in quarters. The dryer cost three. A box of dryer sheets and a box of powdered soap were 75 cents each. Along with a can of soda, the entire shebang cost me probably about $6 or 7 dollars all together.

I had a lot of time to think while my laundry was in the washing machine and the dryer. One of the self-help books I took out of the library yesterday is called The Comfort Trap: Or What If You're Riding a Dead Horse?. Basically, it's on how to get out of "comfort zones" that don't work for you anymore, whether it's a relationship with someone, a job, or an addiction that isn't working.

I should have started doing my laundry at the laundromat sooner. I should have done a lot of things sooner...but I didn't. I'm so afraid of leaving my "comfort zone." I don't know what's out there. I need to get out of the Acme, but every time I look up jobs, I get overwhelmed. I don't know if I can work in another job, or if I'll be able to find one in an economy that everyone except for the media says is horrible.

I know I need to get out, but what I lack is discipline. It's why I can't finish a story or a project. I get all these great ideas, but I can't seem to make myself follow through with them. Same thing happens with work, too. They'll cut my hours, and I scramble to find jobs...then my hours will increase, and there's no reason to leave my "comfort zone" anymore. I need to admit to myself that, no matter how much they increase or decrease my hours, this job is never going to bring me the challenge or satisfaction that I crave, or make use of my skills, or help me meet people with lifestyles and interests closer to my own. It was supposed to get me through college, not the rest of my life.

I need a new vision of what I want and where I want to be. I keep imagining myself with a husband and a little girl and a huge circle of friends in a perfect town where I can talk to everyone and everyone understands me and no one will hurt me. I have a perfect library job, and plenty of time for everyone.

I know that isn't going to happen. Nothing's perfect. And as much as I'd like to have a family and a husband, I'm very reluctant to give up my freedom. I've worked hard to become independent, and any man who is interested in me is going to have to understand that. As for children, as much as I love them, I've seen my mother and sisters raise children, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that kind of dedication yet.

I've also decided to drop counseling as of my next trip in June. A couple of people have mentioned this. Scott's a very nice guy, but it doesn't seem to be helping me anymore. Mom suggested finding a "life coach," someone who can talk to me and help me figure out where my life is going. Some kind of mentor might be worth looking into.

When I got home, I decided it was too nice of a day to spend the rest of it inside cleaning. I grabbed my new bike seat and basket and tried to put those on myself. I was finally able to get the basket on (after almost losing the top part with the screws in the massive leaf pile that's otherwise known as our backyard), but I don't seem to have the right size screwdriver for the bike seat. I'll either borrow one from my neighbor Michael when he gets back from his fishing trip on Friday or ask him to do it.

Spent the last few hours finishing Sam's scarf. It's uneven, but not too bad. I think I'll either make another scarf for one of the girls next or a hat to match Molly's new yellow floral dress. The only hats she owns are her rain hat and her blue felt beret, neither of which are appropriate for summer. I had leftover vegetable beef stew for lunch, then headed to work for my late shift.

Work wasn't too bad. It could have been a lot worse. It was steady, but not overwhelming. There were some annoying customers. One guy had to leave a quarter of his order when oops, he somehow thought you could buy $60 worth of groceries for $30. I also caught two of those people who sell sale items to the chop shops in Camden trying to buy two carts filled with bottles of soda and packs of soda bottles. They were allowed to get four and the 10 for $10 soda sale. No more, and I told them as forcefully as I could and not be rude about it.

My biggest problem with late work isn't the work. It's getting home. It's a little nerve-wracking riding home that late. Thankfully, the streets were pretty clear by 10, both on Kendall and the Black Horse Pike.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Party On Ice

First and foremost...woo hoo! Congratulations to the Philadelphia Flyers for reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997! It's been a long, crazy trip...but here's hoping they'll keep up the amazing job they've done in the post-season against an equally Cup-hungry Chicago Blackhawks!

Otherwise, today wasn't terribly exciting. I slept in and headed for the Haddon Township Library first, after a quick stop at Super Fresh and the newly-opened Party Fair store a few doors down. I put away DVDs and kids' books. They weren't too busy, but I was also there around noon-1PM, so most people were probably at lunch. I took out four books on handling stress, dealing with low self-esteem, and breaking out of a comfort zone that's too stifling to stay in...but too hard to leave.

It was about 2PM when I rode over to the Bagel Shop for lunch. They were pretty dead, except for one couple and an older woman reading a newspaper. I listened to CNN's coverage of the huge oil spill in the Gulf Coast as I ate my egg, cheese, and spinach sandwich on a plain bagel and fried potatoes. (Switched to a bagel from a croissant. I don't really like croissants. They're always too flaky and greasy for me.) It was quite tasty.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I read the self-help books, dusted the Ikea and heart shelves, and gave the Sailor Moon dolls and Star Wars action figures magic eraser baths.

And it's a good thing I got in when I did. About 20 minutes after I got home, it started pouring cats and dogs. It's showered off and on for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What Is Thinking Positive?

I wasn't feeling a lot brighter than a gray, gloomy morning when I awoke. My week had been mostly a pain with a few bright spots, and what was I going to do about my job...again? I'd have to go job hunting again, and I hate that. It never seems to work out.

I had a long talk with Mom about this and her own problems. My brother Keefe isn't doing well in school. He's incredibly bright, but most subjects bore him, especially English. He's failing or almost failing many classes and can't take others because of his grades, plus Mom's worried about his poor reputation. He never turns in work on-time. He's not crazy about the whole high school clique thing, either.

I told Mom about all the trouble I had last week. She basically told me something everyone's said - be more positive. Everyone says I'm too down on myself. I just get so frustrated when things go wrong. I can't help it. It's how I've thought about things since I was a child. It's hard not to get down when there's trouble. I feel like I should have been better.

I took Mom's suggestion and wrote down all the good things about me that I could think of. They filled a page and a half of lined paper. It seems so strange to even write these things down. I know I'm good at organizing, baking, writing, reading, and remembering things. I can keep my house clean and myself fed. I can take care of dolls and stuffed animals that need a home. I ride my bike, recycle, and do my part to help our Earth. I'm good with kids and toys, kind to others, and I try to be helpful.

The Brunch With the Beatles show was done by the time we finished talking. ("The 'Paul Is Dead' Rumor" was the theme today. I don't know where people get such silly ideas. Was everyone in the 60s really that stoned?) I put together a beef stew for dinner and had yogurt for lunch, then started dusting my bedroom.

There's a couple of reasons I don't really do major dusting in the bedroom more often. First of all, it's a pain in the rear to dust under all of my collectible stuffed animals and dolls. Second, I tend to get VERY distracted by books when I dust. I'll pick up one book and open it for what I figure will be five minutes...and then jolt up a half-hour later and realize how much time I've wasted.

I got everything done but the Ikea shelves and heart shelves next to the computer desk, the ones with my Care Bears and Sailor Moon doll collection. I'll have to do that tomorrow. I want to clean the bathroom tomorrow, too.

I went for a quick walk to CVS to buy dish-washing liquid and more magic erasers, this time for my Efframbee, Rainbow Brite, and Sailor Moon dolls. When I got home, I listened to The Dress Circle and had my stew for dinner. Their theme tonight was "Songs With Questions In the Titles." My favorite by far was the hilarious Gershwin brothers number "What Causes That?" from the original cast of Crazy For You. Hard to believe this great number wasn't actually from the original show Girl Crazy. It was one of many songs from the 20s and 30s found in a trunk in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The End of a Bad Week

A week that began badly ended...well, mostly all right. My first stop was the bank to get the check trouble with Nelnet settled. A manager checked my account. Yes, I quite clearly wrote $124 on my check. Someone in their office made a mistake. He contacted them and got it settled. The money should be back in my account by Tuesday.

Next stop was the farm market. It was packed elbow-to-elbow today. In fact, I had to elbow my way through a crowd watching a cooking demonstration...right in front of the first two booths. I eventually bought asparagus, strawberries, spinach, Florida celery, sweet potatoes, and bananas and grapefruit from the wholesaler. (They carry small pink grapefruit for 2 for a dollar. The same fruit costs $1.29 each at the Acme!)

I rode around for an hour after that, checking out yard sales. I did make a few good finds. Picked up six records from one house in Oaklyn - John Cougar Melloncamp, Phil Collins, the Bay City Rollers, the Kinks, and the soundtrack to Flashdance. Found something for Lauren at a sale around the corner. Grabbed the DVD for the 90s comedy Captain Ron in Collingswood for a dollar. (My video copy has been around at least since the early-mid 90s and was a family favorite for years.)

Arrived at home around noon and spent the rest of the afternoon having tuna salad and leftovers for lunch and continuing spring cleaning. My next project is dusting the apartment. It's time for my bi-monthly major dusting session. This means I dust under everything - dolls, DVDs, videos, toys, books, CDs. (The exception are the records, which are so numerous by now, they're just too heavy to lift.) I got the living room done, unable to resist dawdling over some of the entertainment history books in the music area.

I received a major setback on my arrival at work. I only have 13.50 hours next week...and one of those days is 6PM to 10PM! First of all, 13.50 hours is NOT enough for me to live on. Second, I am on a bike. 10 is too late to be out riding around. Third, all of the managers know this by now.

I'm not the only one who's fed up, either. A stock manager complained that his hours had been cut severely as well. I tried to ask one of the head front end managers for more hours, but she said there were none to give, and that I'd only get extra hours if they called me in.

Well, this is a fine kettle of fish! After three months of 30-hour weeks, with some weeks having only one day off, they all of a sudden decide they don't need their entire workforce anymore? I know we've been quiet lately, but they surely could have given me 20 hours! I'm not a college student or a teenager, and I'm getting tired of being treated like one. I feel stupid and worthless. It's time to go through the annoying hassle of looking for a real job again. Not that I'll find one. As everyone enjoys reminding me, the economy is too bad for businesses to hire anyone, much less someone like me.

Work was steady tonight, right up until I left. Thankfully, it quieted down enough by 9 that I was able to shut down with no relief.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ain't No Cure For the Springtime Blues

I awoke to a hot, sunny late-spring day, the first we've had in ages. Unfortunately, it didn't begin well. I tried to wear my new shorts that I bought on Tuesday, but the zipper wouldn't work at all! Only one side was on the track, and it wouldn't slide onto the other side, no matter how much I tried to fix it. I was good and mad. I just bought those! Hadn't even worn them yet! Now I'm going to have to either take a ride to the Cherry Hill Mall or beg someone to take me back over there.

My errands for today, on the other hand, went without a hitch. I made it to the Acme around 10:30 to pick up my paycheck. It wasn't busy at all. WalMart wasn't busy when I bought a basket a new seat for the mountain bike, either. I had no problems grocery shopping, except for a box of Lipton Citrus Green Tea ringing up the wrong price. I went to the desk to explain the problem and got it for free.

After a quick, simple lunch of apple slices, peanut butter, and a granola bar, I headed back out to run more errands and do the last of this week's library volunteering. That's where I encountered another hitch. There was only $229 in my bank account. There should have been at least $800! I asked the teller about it, but she said nothing was amiss. I figured there wasn't anything I could do there, and left.

My next stop was the Haddon Township Library. I rode across Newton Creek Park. It was hot, really hot, and the sun was beating down on my shoulders. I really regretted wearing a tank top. My shoulders must have been burning. (I later discovered that I did indeed have some sunburn on my nose, chest, and shoulders.)

The Library wasn't really busy when I arrived. I just shelved DVDs. I also returned non-fiction books and took out four more mysteries. I picked the next Beatrix Potter novel The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood, a new paperback mystery, How to Wash Your Cat, and two American Girl mysteries, Peril at King's Creek (Felicity) and Missing Grace (the newest Kit story).

I rode across the street to the Westmont Plaza next. A brief stop at Super Fresh yielded nothing I needed. I grabbed sponges and cheap Windex (mine has gone missing, for some strange reason) at Dollar Tree. I rode past what used to be the Halloween Adventure/Swing Set store on my way out to Cuthbert Road. Alas, it's now a pile of rubble. They tore it down to the foundation. I'd still like to know what they plan on building there...

I was hot and getting hotter by the minute. There was a new ice cream shop on Cuthbert Road I wanted to try that would be the perfect way to cool off. It replaces the floral shop on the corner of Cuthbert and the White Horse Pike. Tables and a TV set tuned to Cartoon Network (they were running the new Garfield show when I was there) sit on the patio where there used to be floral displays and booths selling local sports merchandise. Flower pots rest between huge rocking wood booths and statues of cows. (One statue on the patio talks.) I had a chocolate water ice. I didn't like it as much as Leo's Yum Yums down the street, but it wasn't bad...and it felt really good going down. I was so parched!

(And I got my water ice just in time. What looked like a high school or Little League baseball team showed up for a treat about ten minutes after I got my kids' cup. I would have never been able to wade through a bunch of thirsty teenage boys!)

As soon as I got home, I went online and checked out my bank status. Turns out the problem was with my college payment. Someone at Nelnet.Inc, who handles my college payments, though I wrote $724.61 on the check I sent them, instead of $124.61, thanks to a tiny little line next to the 1 that probably came from the pen smudging. The words clearly say the lower number. I was mad as heck! I tried calling Nelnet at least five or six times, but I kept getting their automated phone system. I'm going to go back to the bank tomorrow morning to see if they can correct the problem.

Spent the rest of the afternoon baking and cleaning the windows in my apartment. This has been such a bad week in general. It seems like the harder I try to get things right, the more they go wrong...and I have visitors coming a week from Sunday! I feel like I'll never get everything done.
Monkees Role-Play Now Posted!

It took me a while to do...because this month's story was the longest we've ever written outside of the NanNoWrite novel-length stories! Without further ado, here's this month's Monkees fanfic!

"Flashback to the Past"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Balancing On Track

The clouds had started to break as early as after work last night. By the time I awoke this morning, it was sunny and gorgeous, already in the 70s. It was a great day for a yoga class. I had to be more careful than usual, though. We were concentrating on squats and arm work, and my elbow is still sore. I don't know why. I guess I slept on it funny. It's been like that for over a week. Good thing it wasn't a full class, probably 11 people counting the teacher Karin.

I saw the other manager of the thrift shop as I passed by and gave her my donation bag, taking care of my next chore. After that, I headed to the Collingswood Library for this week's volunteer session there. I mostly just organized DVDs, which really needed to be done. The kids' shelves always get really bad there.

Went straight home after that. I just did things around the apartment after I got in and had tuna salad for lunch. There wasn't time to do anything else. I'd hoped to wash the windows, but I couldn't find the Windex. I have no idea where it went. It's not in the bin with the other cleaning supplies, and I didn't run out.

Dad called me right after I got in and said my laundry was at his house. I did finally pick it up. It was slightly damp, but otherwise fine. Dad was in the midst of cleaning out the pool area. It'll probably be completely ready for swim sessions by Memorial Day.

I had a lovely ride to work this evening. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour, otherwise dead. There were no problems, and I left on time with no relief.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Preparing For Visitors

I have two visitors coming starting Memorial Day Weekend. My best friend Lauren will be visiting from the night before Memorial Day to June 5th. The day she leaves, another online friend, Jen, will be arriving to spend the night while she visits the Philadelphia area. Thus, I intend to spend a lot of the next week and a half cleaning and preparing the apartment for their arrivals.

Today, I vacuumed the whole apartment. I usually don't bother with the back room. It doesn't have electricity. (There are plugs back there, but they don't seem to work.) I plugged it into one nearest to the door and vacuumed as well as I could. I also did around walls and in cracks I normally don't bother with.

My laundry never showed up, BTW. It turned out Dad's dryer broke. They had to take everyone's stuff over to Jodie's, and she forgot it was there. It's still at her house now. Hopefully, they'll be able to bring it over tomorrow.

Work was steady during the usual 4-6 rush hour, but otherwise quiet, with no major problems.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mall Rats

It was not a pleasant day when I got up this morning. It was in the 50s, pouring, and gray. This was especially a pain because I'd planned on going to the library later, and I had laundry to get done. I got up early and went over around quarter of 10.

I needed have rushed. The laundry never got in the dryer. My sister Jessa was home from college. Her boxes and bins from her dorm room were piled on and around the kitchen island, where apparently they'd been since she'd finished her term a few days ago. She was in the midst of finishing her laundry...or so she said.

Three hours later, and her laundry was STILL in the dryer. I'd gotten her to take most of her things upstairs (except for dishes and silverware that would have to be stashed in the basement), since she said Dad was supposed to be home today. We watched the first Meatballs (the one with Bill Murray) on Comedy Central, and earlier had Mall Rats on, but by this point, Jessa was napping and I was getting bored. I switched to Go Diego Go! on Nick, but that didn't really help, as cute as it was to chase after whistling ducks and tree frogs.

Jessa said she'd wanted to go to the Cherry Hill Mall to exchange a dress she bought at Urban Outfitters. That sounded fine for me. It was still showering, and the weather really wasn't right for riding the bike anywhere. Not to mention, her laundry was STILL in the dryer. Apparently, she stuffed most of her laundry from her last weeks at college in there!

We walked around the Cherry Hill Mall for about two hours. They just finished a massive remodeling job there last year. Frankly, I'm not quite as fond of it as the Deptford Mall. It's a beautiful mall with tons of history (it was the first mall built on the east coast), but the stores are mostly upscale boutiques.

I did find a few things I needed. I decided to try Build-a-Bear clothes for my AG dolls. I bought a skirt and peasant blouse outfit and some shorts for my modern doll Jessa. No, none of the boutiques had anything I liked (what's with those awful ripped shorts?), but I did finally find a sensible pair of jean shorts to replace the ones that got a hole in them and (yet another) new pair of work pants at JCPenney.

Jessa and I finally had a snack at the food court around quarter of 5. I had cookies. She had sushi. Dad called her while we ate. We'd taken his van because she was worried about her old Buick's engine smoking. Dad had arrived at home...and he wasn't happy with us taking off with his car without permission or leaving a mess in the laundry room and kitchen.

We went home shortly after that. The traffic going back was bad, and we had to do a lot of circling around to avoid it. When we finally got back to Dad and Uncle Ken's, there was a mini-party going on. Jodie had gotten in from work, and Rose was there with her baby son Khai to do his wash.

No, my laundry never did get in the dryer. Rose said she'd put it in sometime tonight and bring it over tomorrow. I really feel bad about that, even though everyone said it was ok. I should be doing my laundry myself, not letting other people do things for me. It's probably all gunky and wrinkled now.

And the BAB skirt and shorts were too big for Little Jess. The peasant blouse was big, too, but they're supposed to be big. I'll just take the skirt and shorts in.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Morning At the Library

I slept in this morning. It's just as well. It was gloomy and gray when I awoke, though not cold or windy. It was probably still in the upper 60s-lower 70s. Not exactly the most fun day to go running around.

After a breakfast of porridge, I decided that since I finished Apple Turnover Murder when I got up this morning, I'd volunteer at the Oaklyn Library today. I decided to do something a little different and organize the Chapter Books section. I love that the Oaklyn Library's chapter books section still has so many classic titles. I saw Caddie Woodlawn, Understood Betsy, the Louisa May Alcott books Little Men, Jo's Boys, Under the Lilacs, and Jack and Jill, National Velvet, Five Little Peppers, Summer of the Swans, and many of the Judy Blume and Lois Lenski titles I remember so well from childhood. Not enough Babysitter's Club, but tons of Christopher Pike and Sweet Valley High.

But someone hasn't been over there in a while. The shelves were dusty, and the lower ones were covered in cobwebs! Ugh! I told the librarian they needed to be cleaned pronto.

After I got home, I spent an hour working on editing this month's Monkees Role-Play story and eating a quick lunch of peanut butter, celery sticks, a half of a grapefruit, and a Nutmeg Feather Muffin. I headed quickly to work after lunch.

I had a short shift, only four hours, and it was steady the entire time. I caused the most problems. A WIC check wasn't organized right, and I got a lot of things mixed up. Some of the managers weren't happy when I let people get away with cereal that's no longer on the checks, too. I did that because they'd already taken up time putting aside items they hadn't gotten right, and the cereal used to be on the checks. I really wish the New Jersey government would stop changing this stuff every couple of months. It's confusing.

The ride to work was more of the same, but it started spitting on the way home. By the time I got in, it was a full-blown shower. I don't know if we've had any rain since. It's supposed to cool off by tomorrow, then return to the 70s.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flying Solo

I awoke to sunshine pouring through my bedroom window...and a phone ringing. It was Mom, calling to ask me how I was doing this week. We didn't talk for too long. She had just watered her indoor plants and wanted to do some yard work. I hadn't even had breakfast! I told her I was fine.

In all perfect honesty, no, I'm not fine. I've been thinking a lot about what happened last weekend. I'm nervous about meeting new people, and last week reminded me of why. It just rarely seems to work out. Everyone suggests something, but every time I try to join a big group, I just try to hide in the corner. I can't do it. I feel too shy. I don't talk to people well. I stammer and I stutter and I sound silly.

Maybe I should start saving my money for more classes like the yoga class. I just don't know what I'd be interested in, though. Dance classes cost money - you need clothes in addition to the classes themselves. Maybe a cooking class, or a sewing class. Someone could finally teach me how to work that darn sewing machine.

After I got off with Mom, I made Whole Wheat Pancakes with Banana Syrup while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. The theme today was "Solo Beatles Efforts." Had a great time with them. Only complaint is they missed my favorite solo Ringo Starr song, "Oh My My"...but they did get my favorite solo numbers from the others. I heard George Harrison's "All Those Years Ago," John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels" and "Woman," and Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die."

I went for a long walk after the Beatles show ended. There's a cul-de-sac town between Oaklyn's ramp and the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center called Audubon Park. I realized yesterday that, despite living here for over five years now, I'd never really explored the area properly.

Audubon Park has an interesting back story. From what I gathered, it was set up by minority workers and their families in Camden who felt disenchanted with housing there. There's apparently fewer families there than there used to be, despite the fact that all I saw there today were families, older couples, and a bunch of teenage boys playing in the street hockey park. To make up for the houses all being very dull, uniform white 50s models, the tiny yards were well-landscaped and filled with flowers and trees of every description. There was a little playground near the end of Road "A" (that was it's name - yes, there was a Road "B" and "C" too). The playground wasn't in great shape. The steps on the mini-boat I played in were broken. The ground was covered with this funny-smelling bouncy material that I suspect was recycled tires.

I did see something really cute on my stroll. Audubon Park's former elementary school is now Tippy Toes Day Care. They had these cute little playhouses in what was once the school yard, all painted to look like normal businesses. There was a fire house, a post office, and a Town Hall - even a Citizen's Bank! (I'm assuming they provided funding for the playhouses.)

Another interesting fact about Audubon Park. Every street in town (except for Road "A," "B," and "C" and School Drive) is named after some type of bird. I saw Flamingo Drive, Robin Terrace, Dove Terrace, Ibis Drive, Kingfisher Lane, Hummingbird Road, and Bobolink Drive, among others. Also, most of these "terraces" and "lanes" are really sidewalks leading to various houses or circular drives between houses. It's really hard to get between homes and very easy to get lost.

Also, like many 50s developments, there's no trees lining the roads in Audubon Park. I got very hot and parched on my walk! I headed back to Oaklyn, hoping that Leo's Yum Yums would be open. They weren't. I went home and had a Lemonade Edy's Fruit Bar instead.

I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around inside. I worked on editing the role play, but I really got bored. This is where the whole friend thing might come in handy. Oh, well. It's my own fault for being too shy and scared to know where to go. I say this stuff, but then I feel fine when I'm busy.

I did make a nice dinner of cornmeal-battered tilapia, steamed asparagus, and vanilla sweet potatoes.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Farm Market Day

I'm so glad I got up early for the Collingswood Farm Market this time. The sun was shining and the sky was very blue when I headed out around quarter of 9. It was windy, but otherwise much warmer than it has been. This was reflected in the bank being dead...and the Farm Market being packed. I was barely able to make my way through the crowd to buy blackstrap molasses, radishes, Crimini mushrooms from the mushroom booth, asparagus, and the most delicious strawberries I've ever tasted.

Spent two hours riding around Collingswood, Oaklyn, and Westmont after that, looking for yard sales. There were quite a few today, probably due to the nice weather. I found a big Wilton ghost cookie cutter at a sale on Newton Avenue in Oaklyn. Sales in Collingswood yielded two records (Guy Lombardo and Dionne Warwick) and a large 2002 Tenderheart Bear. I went past the Oaklyn School's "Spring Fling" (their annual school fair), and checked out a few on and behind Kendall. A sale at Ridgeway yielded a Love-A-Lot Bear beanie with tye-dye fur.

There was a package on Miss Ellie's doorstep for me when I got home. The American Girls dress I ordered from eBay had arrived! This was the first time I was able to get a NIB (new in box) dress under retail price. It's one of my favorites, too, Kit's adorable yellow floral dress from her movie. I'm going to use it for a summer outfit for Molly. The only warm-weather clothes she had was her Birthday Pinafore, and all of her summer clothes are back-ordered on AG's site. It did, indeed, come in the original box, with the dress, tan shoes, and cute little floral clip. Molly's wearing it now, and she looks lovely.

I spent the rest of the morning working on editing the extra-long role play story Lauren and I have been working on for half the month. (It's going to take me a while to edit it all, so I wouldn't look for it until the end of the week.) I had scrambled eggs with black beans, corn, and cheese and a salad for lunch, then headed off to work.

Work started out dead, but picked up as the day went on. At least it wasn't as long of a day as I thought it would be. I originally wrote down on the schedule on my wipe board at home that I was working until 8 today...but it turns out I only worked until 6. Probably a good thing. Though most people were in a good mood (between the weather and the Flyers' historic win yesterday), there were a few annoying customers, including one lady with a check that just would not go through.

Getting off earlier than expected was a nice surprise. It was great to be able to eat leftovers at home, instead of at work.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Outdoor Spring Cleaning

I spent most of the day doing things I've put off doing for the past few weeks, either because of the weather or a lack of time. First of all, I made a quick run to the Oaklyn Library to return The Mapping of Love and Death, renew Apple Turnover Murder, and pay the fine for both.

After that, I worked on outdoor cleaning. I washed the deck chairs, the milk crate I use for a deck table, the trash can, the recycling canisters, and the cruiser bike. I would have done it earlier in the week, but it's been too cold to use the hose, or to be playing in water outside at all. The only thing I didn't do today was the mountain bike. I'm going to do some more work on that before I clean it.

I had far less luck with the sewing machine. I've been trying to figure out how to thread the mini-sewing machine I bought from the thrift shop forever. Every time I do it, it just keeps bunching up and getting tangled. The instruction manual is no help. It doesn't really explain things well, and the pictures are so small, I can't see what it's referring to. I guess I'm just going to have to stick to hand-sewing until I can get that thing going.

I went to work early to pick up my paycheck, which turned out to be pretty smart. I got two paychecks this week. Something about the Union paying us extra for not giving us raises for over a year and a half. (I really can't remember the last time I had one.)

Good thing I did. It'll make up for getting lousy hours next week. I only got 18.50. On one hand, having three days off, including Sunday, will come in handy for all the chores and cleaning I still have to do before Lauren arrives in two weeks (and Jen after her). Not to mention we haven't exactly been hugely busy lately. On the other hand...the extra money's been really nice, too.

Work wasn't really busy tonight, either. Two major sports games (the Flyers had a do-or-die playoff game with the Boston Bruins, and the Phillies played tonight, too) and a huge thunderstorm around 7 pretty much cleared everyone out. It may have been just as well. There was a call-out, and we were short-handed tonight.

I did get some grocery shopping in after work. I mostly needed flour (unbleached and whole wheat), but I also picked up apples, bananas, canned black beans and fat-free/low-salt chicken broth, beef ribs, and chicken cutlets and Yoplait yogurt that were on sale.

Though it wasn't raining when I got out, I could see dark clouds on the horizon, and even a little lightning. I hurried home. We had a second thunderstorm about a half-hour after I got in, but it didn't last long.

Oh, and congratulations to the Flyers for becoming only the third team in NHL history to come back and win a playoff series after being down 3-0 after the first three games! (The Phillies won, too.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sunny Day Balance

I saw sunshine through my windows for the first time in days when I awoke this morning. It was a great morning to head for yoga class. We worked on binding moves - i.e, trying to reach around a twist and grab our hands and/or legs. Not an easy thing to do, especially in a big class that numbered 15 including the teacher Karin. It was a bit simpler using a strap to hold my arms.

Went straight home after class. I've been putting off doing things outside because of the weather. I did things online, did the budget (spent a lot on food last month, but I also ate at home a lot), and swept the porch. After these last few days of storms, the porch needed to be swept badly. I wasn't going to do any other outside cleaning until the porch was done.

Work was quiet for most of the night. It did get busier around 6, but it was so dead by 7:30, I ended up spending my last half-hour watering the plants and flowers for sale outside.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bear-ly Warm

I actually got up around 8 today, but I spent some time in bed this morning, ready Apple Turnover Murder. It wasn't until 11 that I really got going. Mother Nature wasn't helping. It was exactly the same as yesterday - cold, damp, gray, and dreary.

First stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library for volunteering. I just organized the children's books. They always need it there. After that, I made a very quick run to the Oaklyn Post Office to drop off my college payments for the month.

I've been trying to get to Haddonfield for almost two weeks now, but either the weather's been bad, or I've been busy. Haddonfield is another historic town a few minutes from here. I thought of riding my bike, but I didn't trust the weather, so I hopped on the PATCO. I wasn't hungry, so I just had a slice of mushroom pizza at Vila Rosa around the corner from the train/bus terminal when I got in.

On one hand, I was hoping to find a new pair of jean shorts after I somehow ripped a pair I haven't had that long on Saturday. Nope. There's at least 10 or 20 clothing shops in Haddonfield...and the clothes were overpriced at each and every one. I don't know why anyone buys anything from boutiques. $175 for shorts that are ripped anyway is highway robbery! What are they, made of gold?

I didn't have luck with the bike shop, either. They didn't have a basket for the mountain bike or the one that I wanted for the cruiser that just hooks on the front. I did get a new tire, though.

I did find one thing I was looking for. The Happy Hippo Toy Shop had just gotten in this month's WebKinz today. They had all the ones I wanted, but I finally opted for the Small Signature Black Bear. (I debated getting the Pom Pom Kitty, but WebKinz Insider has mentioned people have had trouble getting her online pet item.) She's gorgeous, softer and more realistic than the original WebKinz Black Bear, but not as big or expensive as the huge Signature WebKinz. (I also ended up getting dried cranberries and apricots from CVS, one of the only really useful stores in Haddonfield besides the toy shop.)

My stroll through Haddonfield didn't take very long. I arrived around 12:30, was back on the PATCO by almost 2 and home by 2:15. Spent the rest of the afternoon doing something else I've been wanting to catch up on - baking! I made Swedish Rye Bread and Swedish Rice Porridge from Kirsten's Cook Book and turned a brownie recipe into Oatmeal-Dried Cranberry Bars (though I think I overcooked the latter). I'd started a slow-cooker Chicken Stew before I left and had that and the porridge for dinner.

I watched That's Entertainment when I got in, then decided I was in the mood for Meet Me In St. Louis. This is one of the most famous MGM musicals, a lovely tale of a family in the title city in 1904 as they prepare for the World's Fair, chase boys, tell tall tales, and are thrown for a loop when Dad brings home some unexpected news.

Sounds boring? Not to me. This movie makes me feel right at home. I come from a family that is dominated by women, where the father is often out-of-the-loop, and we moved a LOT during my childhood. The opening scene, in which the eldest daughter's beau calls long-distance during dinner, could have come right from my own teen years...right down to the youngest daughter's story about the blood squirting out of a man she saw. (Anny used to tell similar wild stories at dinner at Tootie's age.)

Judy Garland is the second-eldest, and though she's the star here, everyone is obviously having a good time. (Especially Judy. She had such a good time, she fell in love with director Vincent Minellei here.) Little Margaret O'Brien's Tootie and her fondness for death and her doll cemetery was a family favorite. (Anny did similar things at her age - not dolls, but she did bury crabs on the beach.)

A warning for men - like Mamma Mia!, this is a very girly movie. Most of the male reviewers I've seen haven't gotten into it. It's also not really filled with action - those who like more plot in their musicals need look elsewhere. And you may want to be around with your little ones during the Halloween sequence. Nothing really bad happens, but Minellei did such great work with the spooky ambiance that you really feel Tootie's fear. It scared my little brother so much, it was years before he'd watch it straight through.

Oh, and meet Ursula, my Small Signature Black Bear! I'm going to move her into the new pink Princess room I just set up using some Princess furniture I won on cards.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Baby Mine

I slept in again. Started the day with a run to the Haddon Township Library. Normally, I'd start with the laundry. Jodie invited me over later in the day, though, and I'd heard it was supposed to rain in the afternoon, too. It was so late by the time I got over to Westmont, about noon, that I didn't have the chance to do much of anything. I browsed in Super Fresh, looking for more magic erasers, but I couldn't find them. The library was fairly busy - I just put away DVDs and Easy Readers. Didn't have the time to take anything out.

I rode straight home via Newton River Park. It had been cold, damp, and cloudy all day, and it was getting worse by the time I rolled in, around quarter of 2. I had a quick lunch of celery sticks, peanut butter, an apple, and a wrap with honey, then headed for Dad and Uncle Ken's house.

Everyone at Dad's is on vacation this week and next week. Uncle Ken and Dolores have been in Texas for the past few weeks and will be there for another few weeks. Dad is doing a cruise ship job and taking a fire-fighting course across the country. It was quiet when I rolled in. I got my laundry started and finished the newest Maisie Dobbs book, The Mapping of Love and Death.

My laundry was long in the dryer before Jodie appeared. The original plan for tonight was buying pizza, but apparently she'd opted for spaghetti, meatballs, and hot sausage with her own home-made sauce instead. It was really good. The sauce was delicious, fresh and tasty. We even had real Parmesan cheese.

Rose and Craig showed up about 20 minutes after they did, along with a friend of theirs, Jimmy. Baby Khai is just so adorable! He's gotten a little bigger in the three weeks since his birth, and he can open his eyes and is starting to grasp things. Otherwise, he's still very much a tiny newborn. His mother had lots of laundry to do for him. Good thing mine was just about done.

I got to hold him while she loaded the laundry. He's so tiny and precious! I sang to him, and he went to sleep. It felt odd to hold a real life in my arms. Odd, but kind of nice. He's just so small and sweet. Unfortunatly, my left elbow has been feeling sore for the past few days. I think I slept on it funny. I really wasn't up to holding him for too long.

I had a nice chat with Jodie, Craig, Rose, and Jimmy. We mostly talked about Khai, raising children, and their plans for later in the evening. Jimmy was nice enough to take me home after dinner. I would have walked, but it had started to rain.

The rain has continued into the evening, and come down fairly hard. Good. We needed it. Maybe this will warm things up a bit and make things less dry.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Taking Care of My Girls

The rest of today wasn't terribly exciting. I got up too late to run any really big chores, and it was too cold and windy to start cleaning the porch furniture, which was my original plan for today.

I spent a few hours this morning cleaning the girls instead. I gave Felicity and Molly magic eraser baths. That was all Felicity needed. She's in by far the best shape of the four dolls. Jessa must have gotten her last. Her ends are a tiny bit dry, but nothing unmanageable. I just redressed her in her Spring Pinner Outfit and put her hair in a ponytail.

I had more fun with Molly's hair. Actually, I really, really like how Molly came out. Most of whatever the red stuff that Jessa dyed Molly's hair with did come out...but what little remains gives it a reddish tinge like she has highlights. I like that. It's unique. I really like the cute bob she has, too. I don't know if Jessa did that or if Kaye or Dad fixed what Jessa had done, but it's actually a nice look for her. I gave her two little ponytails on either side of her head, tied with ribbons. They look like a straighter version of mine, actually.

My Samantha needs more work. Her long, brown hair is still dry as a bone. I trimmed a bit of the ends to try to get the dryness off, but there was just too much of it. She's drying now. After this, I'm just going to put her hair back up and give her a magic eraser bath. I may try dunking her in fabric softener again, but I don't think there's much more I can do.

I went for a long walk after doing Sam's hair. I just strolled around the neighborhood. It may have been too cold to run the hose, but it was perfect for a walk, in the mid-60s, sunny, and still very windy. Headed down Manor and over to West Cedar, stopping briefly to play at the small Tracy Connors Memorial Park playground. I headed back around to Kendall, then down to West Clinton.

I had a chat with the Dorias after buying water there, mostly about what happened on Friday. They pretty much said what everyone did - everyone makes a mistake, it's not your fault, there will be other guys, you just have to be more careful.

Headed home after that. I made a Scrambled Eggs with Spring Vegetables and Monterrey Jack Cheese, fresh farm market Swiss chard, and the last of the gingerbread for lunch. Lunch took me longer than I thought, and I was late getting out for work.

I needn't hurried. Work was steady during rush hour, but otherwise not bad. There were no major problems, and I was in and out quickly with no relief.
Every Time We Say Good-Bye

Actress/Jazz Singer Lena Horne Dies at 92

Horne was one of my idols. I first heard her famous rendition of "Stormy Weather" on, of all places, the Disney Channel's 80s DTV music videos. Even played against clips of Donald Duck having a bad day, I could feel the aching melancholy in the performance.

I don't think they knew what to do with me, a black woman. At the time, I never felt like I quite fit in.

Lena Horne had been invited to appear in the first That's Entertainment, but she'd only do it if she could tell her side of the story as an abused minority in Hollywood. It wasn't until the third movie that they'd comply. She had one of my favorite segments of That's Entertainment III, explaining what had happened to not only her, but Ava Gardner in the 50s Show Boat when her vocals were switched for someone else's.

Good bye to a legend, and one of the strongest women I've ever seen. I only hope I can be half as strong as she was.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mothers, Dolls, and Movies

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all moms, including new moms and those whose children are four-legged and/or feathered.

I slept until 10, then read books and wrote in my journal in bed for a while. It was quarter after 11 before I finally started making breakfast. I tried calling Mom to wish her a happy Mother's Day while my Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Pancakes were cooking, but I got a busy signal.

Finally got through to her around noon. She was in the midst of an intense game of Parcheesi with my stepfather and brother. She said she wasn't doing well. I hope she eventually kicked their rears.

The theme of the Brunch With the Beatles show today was "The Beatles and Other British Revolution Bands of 1964 and 1965." We heard from Dusty Springfield, Gary and the Pacemakers, and the Dave Clark Five, among a few others, along with early Beatles music. I'm not the biggest fan of the Beatles' earlier stuff, but it was nice to hear some of the other bands and put them in context of the time period.

Spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out online. Mom had recommended a TCM collection of four musicals that she'd gotten off of, the TCM Greatest Classic Films: Broadway Musicals set. I may have to get it myself. I have Annie Get Your Gun and Kiss Me Kate on video (the latter has been around since high school and is showing its years) and don't have Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or the 1952 Show Boat with Ava Gardner.

I went to Turner Classic Movies' site next to check out something I'd heard mentioned elsewhere - the Warners Archive Collection. On one hand, this preserves older movies that Warners doesn't deem worthy of a major release (including silents) and some lesser-known recent films. On the other hand, they're cheaply done, despite the $19.99 price tag, just the movie on a DVD-R. I wasn't sure they'd be worth the price...but I discovered on their site that they include many movies I was sure would never see the light of day on DVD, including the Marilyn Miller bio-pic Look For the Silver Lining, the 1944 Kismet with Marlene Dietrich, and dozens of early talkie musicals heavily discussed in one of my favorite books, A Song in the Dark - Sweet Kitty Belairs, Love In the Rough, It's A Great Life, the infamous Golden Dawn ("very offbeat" is putting it mildly), On With the Show!, the 1929 Rio Rita, Show Girl In Hollywood, The Hollywood Revue of 1929, The Show of Shows, and two vehicles for the real-life Miller, Sally and Sunny. Sally, Hollywood Revue, and Rio Rita alone are fun flicks (vintage and all). Besides, everyone should have one really bad, campy cult movie in their collection...and they don't get much worse, or campier, than Golden Dawn. (What's campier than an operetta set in Africa with people in horrible black makeup singing about "My Whip" and "My Bwana?" ;) )

I had leftover asparagus and the last of the chicken sausage patties for lunch, then headed for work. Work was a pain in the rear today. First of all, the drawer for my first register jammed while I had a long line, and we had to move everyone to the next one. Second, there were at least two checks that wouldn't go through the system we use. The first woman threw a fit, but the second took it much better.

I've been wanting to do some work on my American Girls dolls ever since I read about how to clean them up at the American Girls Playthings Message Board. I decided that, to cheer me up, I would lavish attention on the people who have always been there for me - my dolls. I bought fabric softener and a Magic Marker sponge at work (along with buttermilk).

I washed Molly's hair first. I don't know what my stepsister Jessa used on her hair, but it made a huge mess! Red stuff went everywhere. I managed to get as much of it out as I could, but I got her torso soaked. She was dunked in fabric softener for a while. I also cleaned Samantha's hair and conditioned it. I'm going to leave her in the fabric softener overnight. She has more hair than Molly does.

Molly looks much better. Her hair is still a tad reddish, but it's nothing like it was. Unfortunatly, I completely soaked her body. She's going to have to dry for a while. I wiped Little Jessa with the Magic Marker. I'll do Felicity tomorrow.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Farm Market's Back

I had to get out of the apartment after yesterday. I just couldn't stay there. I got a late start and spent the morning and afternoon running errands. My first stop was the bank. I deposited my paycheck and talked to the tellers. It was 11 by then, so the bank was fairly busy. Made a quick stop at the post office to deliver Mom's Mother's Day card while I was on the White Horse Pike, then headed for Collingswood and the Farm Market in the parking lot behind Haddon Avenue.

I still love the Farm Market. The Collingswood Farm Market happens every Saturday, rain or shine, between the first Saturday in May and the last Saturday before Thanksgiving. Most of the same booths were there, and the tables were surprisingly full, given I didn't arrive until 11:30. I bought strawberries, a bunch of carrots, leeks, garlic, Swiss chard, asparagus, peach butter from the fruit orchard, and raspberry-flavored honey from the honey seller.

After what happened yesterday, I felt like I needed to talk to someone and be around people. I tried calling Mom in the park, but Dad said she was at work. I rode back to Oaklyn and tried visiting Jodie, but she wasn't home, either. I ended up at the Oaklyn Library instead. I told the whole story to the kindly old lady who is the morning librarian there. She was very sweet and told me I could stay at least until the library closed at 2. I organized the childrens' books and DVDs, then headed out at 1:30 when my stomach started growling.

Had lunch at that nice little soup restaurant on Pine Street between Willie the Woodsman's and Wife and Act Two Collectibles. Today's soup was a tasty cup of Chicken Orzo (rice-shaped noodles). I paired it with a can of Coke Zero and a mini-loaf of corn bread.

Willie the Woodsman and Wife had no new WebKinz, but I did have some luck at Act Two. I found the most darling little blue sailor's outfit for my Cabbage Patch Kid doll Carrie. Had a nice chat about yesterday with the proprietor, too, who told me about how happy she was to have met her second husband after difficulties with the first.

I rode around Audubon for a little while after that. Went down Pine Street, then over to the section of Newton River Park in Mt. Ephram. It was a nice day for it, too, very windy, but sunny and warm. I rode down the Black Horse Pike and over to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center.

I made my way around the traffic to FYE. They didn't have the new WebKinz, either, but I did get the first That's Entertainment movie used for $7.38 with my membership card. Also made a quick stop at the Acme for milk and my schedule, both of which I forgot yesterday.

Finally headed home after that. I baked a Lemon-Pineapple Cake from scratch with Lemon Buttercream Icing and watched That's Entertainment. Mom called during the segment on Judy Garland. She basically said what Lauren told me last night - nothing that happened yesterday was my fault, don't be hard on yourself, you're an adult, it's a learning experience. She said she was proud of me for handling things like I did. Rose would more-or-less say the same things about an hour later, backed up by the coos and gurgles of her new son. (She's apparently done with finals and is now spending some quality time with her recent arrival.)

And I'm glad I did finally buy That's Entertainment. A collection of the most famous musical numbers and sequences from MGM movies, this makes for a great pick-me-up when you're feeling down, or for cool background music when you're busy but still feel like having a movie on. Is it necessary if you already have a lot of these movies? Well, yes. Beyond what I said, a lot of these movies either aren't available on DVD yet (the MacDonald/Eddy Rose Marie...PLEASE, MGM/Sony?) or are difficult to find on DVD. (Small Town Girl, for instance, is only to be found as part of the Warner Archives series on TCM's site.)

Plus, ironically, there's now reasons to be nostalgic for one of the movies that helped kick off the 70s nostalgia craze. Most of the "host" stars have since passed away, and the massive MGM lot was destroyed shortly after the movie was made. Besides, the "Golden Era of Hollywood" that these movies represent is fading even more into the past...

Friday, May 07, 2010

My Day

I spent the day with a fellow. He was a big, handsome, strapping black fellow. Big, strong chest, and very sweet eyes. We listened to jazz, watched the new Clash of the Titans on his computer, and worked on my laptop. He told me a great story about meeting blues legend BB King at a rodeo, and how he inspired him to wrestle a bull and win prize money. (I was honestly envious of him for that one.)

He said he felt passion for me, but ultimately, I just wasn't feeling the same. He was very nice to me, and he said a great deal that made me think. He was very intelligent and kind, but I just couldn't feel the passion he did. He was here a long time, and we did a lot of things around the house. He even helped me clear some unnecessary programs off my laptop, which I am grateful to him for.

By the time he'd left, though, when I had time to think, I finally decided that, as much as he'd helped me and as nice as he was, I just wasn't feeling what he was feeling. I called him when he got home (he walked, bless him!) and told him. He seemed disappointed, but not upset.

I don't regret the day at all. It gave me a lot to think about. I don't often get to spend a day with a mature adult. Most of all, what it made me realize is...I need to really, really ease into a relationship. I just can't jump into things. Maybe I'm an adult, but I'm not quite ready for more than casual dating yet. Five years is a long time between relationships. I'm a very independent and very old-fashioned girl, and a guy who dates me is going to have to live with that.

Sometimes, love comes right away, and sometimes, it may take a while.
Mina Aino (Sailor Venus), dubbed version of Sailor Moon Super S episode "Double Trouble"

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Friendly Balance

Started off a somewhat cloudy and breezy day with yoga class. I didn't have much luck. We mostly concentrated on standing poses and balancing poses like bridge. I'm terrible at bridge, and don't get me started on full wheel. I definitely can't lift my legs while doing them! I fell a lot. Good thing there were only 9 people in class today, counting the teacher Karin.

Made a brief stop at the thrift shop next. I said "hi" to Erica and browsed. The shop was quite busy, so I didn't talk to her for very long. I didn't see anything I wanted, so I moved on.

Next on today's agenda was volunteering at the Collingswood Library. I put away and organized the DVDs downstairs, then went upstairs to see if anything needed to be put away. There was only one book that did...but I found something else upstairs. Or someone.

A big black man commented nicely on the book I was reading, and said he'd seen me before. We ended up talking for 45 minutes. He was very nice to me. I almost never have anyone, male or female of any race or creed, notice me like that. He said he'd seen me before and thought he'd like to try talking to me. He said he'd call me back when I got home. I hadn't planned on staying for so long! It was quarter after 1 before I finally got home!

I did talk to the fellow when I got in. We're going to get together for a walk tomorrow, since he has to go by the Acme anyway and I need to pick up my paycheck. I'm not too sure about this. He seems to want to go faster than I'm ready for, but I do need people to talk to...and as I discovered this afternoon, he's quite the conversationalist! I don't often find that around here beyond my family. Even if I'm not ready for love, I could use a friend who lives in the area.

Work was a pain in the rear. It was steady when I came in and when I left...but rush hour was a mad house. We had long lines, not enough help, and several annoying customers. Chief among them were some guys trying to buy 30 bottles of Febreze and 20 of the Tide on sale. This would have been less of a pain if they didn't want to pay for 2 Febreze and one Tide per order, so they could get the $5 coupon that came with the Tide to use on the next order! After a few minutes of doing this, the line got too long to play their game, and I told them so. They needed to have some respect for others; the Acme is a public place. They didn't even get that far with the cashier behind me and finally left anything they hadn't already paid for behind.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

In the Kitchen

I spent a lot of the morning watching movies and crocheting. I wanted to volunteer at the Oaklyn Library around 11, but when I arrived, I discovered they were closed until 4:30. I'd be working then. Oh, well. I'll volunteer on Friday instead.

It was too nice of a day to go straight home, though. I ended up just walking around the neighborhood, down West Holly, back up to Kendall, then over to West Clinton for a soda from Doria's Deli. It was a gorgeous day for a walk. It was still windy, but the clouds were gone, the sky was very blue, and it was a bit warmer than yesterday.

After I got home, I continued spring cleaning and did the kitchen. I debated holding off until Saturday, but the sink was getting grungy. Oh yeah, and spraying around the sink seems to have done the trick. I've seen no more ants. Hopefully, it'll stay that way for a while, or at least until I can get someone to clear the sticks and fuzzies off the roof.

I had a quick lunch of chicken sausage patties, steamed carrots, and a banana, and headed to work. Work was steady. It was busier than last week, especially during rush hour, but not overwhelming. The weather must have put everyone in a good mood; there were no major problems.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Bears, Cabbies, and the Single Girl

The weather here was gorgeous today. It was a bit cloudy this morning and got a little cloudy this afternoon, but it was mostly windy and cooler. I'm guessing it was in the upper 70s-lower 80s. The humidity that had plagued the Camden County area all weekend was gone as well.

I spent most of the morning at Dad's. He had a package coming today and wanted someone to be around while he ran errands. I had a full load of laundry to do, including towels, and plenty of time to do it in. I read a book on nutrition and health care for women and worked on crocheting Samantha's scarf. No, the package never appeared, at least not while I was there. Dad came home shortly after my laundry was done, anyway.

I brought the laundry home, put it away, and went right back out again. About two or three weeks ago, the Westmont Plaza gated off the back area around what was the Halloween Adventure store. My first thought was that they were going to tear it down. It hadn't been used for anything but a seasonal store since I saw a swing set store there when I first moved here in 2006. Then I saw wood on the roof and wondered if they were only repairing the roof and another store was going to move in.

As it turned out, my first thought was right. The side of the store facing Cuthbert Road was now missing it's wall, exposing what remained of the inside. They appear to be tearing it down. I'm a little disappointed (now this means the closest Halloween store will probably be in Deptford), but I'm honestly not surprised. The store never seemed to be in all that great of shape even when it was shilling plastic ghosts and witch costumes, and it looks like it was never remodeled with the rest of the mall. It's still 70s dark and boxy, compared to the lighter colors and angles used for the remainder of the Westmont Plaza. Maybe this is for the best. They can use this spot for something better...or even widen their parking lot.

I made quick stops at Dollar Tree and JoAnn's. I bought a Mother's Day card, a bubble wrap package, and a baby sundress, t-shirt, and shorts that I hoped to use for my Cabbage Patch Kids Carrie and Dulcie. I picked up pins (I realized in March that I have none) and velcro at JoAnn's.

The Haddon Township Library was busy, and there was plenty to do and stacks of DVDs to return, both adult and kids. I took out the Disney animated action film Brother Bear and the film noir Affair in Trinidad, which I've taken out before but didn't have the chance to watch. I also took out one of the newest American Girls mysteries, 70s girl Julie's second, The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter, the next Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales mystery The Tale of Holly How, and an updated version of a 60s cookbook for single women, Saucepots and the Single Girl.

My next stop was a brief appearance at the Dollar General next to the Westmont Acme. Neither they nor the neighboring CVS had anything of interest, so I just headed home. At this point, it had become cloudier, windier, and quite a bit cooler. I thought it might rain, but the clouds eventually vanished, and it was sunny again when I arrived home.

Spent the rest of the evening making steak with plum wine sauce, steamed carrots, and an orange and escarole salad for dinner and watching Brother Bear. I'm surprised this one doesn't heard about more. On paper, it sounds like The Lion King cross-bred with the Disney Tarzan. Three brothers of an ancient Canadian tribe live together, but when the eldest is killed by a bear, Kenai the youngest seeks revenge on the animal. In punishment for what he did, the spirits of the tribe's ancestors turn him into a bear. He's angry, disoriented, and frustrated at first, but things improve when he meets a chatty little cub named Koda. Koda offers to take him to the local bears' salmon run, where he hopes his mother is. Kenai may regard Koda as an annoying kid, but he has many things to teach the older boy...including the meaning of siblinghood.

This may be one of my favorite "unsung" Disney movies. As someone who loves bears and has three younger siblings, I can relate to the theme of understanding those who are different, learning to live with our siblings even when they drive us nuts, and accepting newcomers into the family, whether they're genetic family or not. The animation was gorgeous, and the Phil Collins music is sensational. "Take a Look Through My Eyes" got a lot of radio airplay when the movie first came out, and I'm fond of "Welcome" and "On My Way," too.

Oh, and the Cabbies look very nice in their new clothes. Carrie's t-shirt and shorts really are too big for her. I rolled up the shorts and pulled up the t-shirt. Dulcie's sundress was easier to fix. I cut the spaghetti straps in half and tied them, pulling them up enough to look right.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Spring Cleaning Continues

Spent this morning cleaning the bathroom. It was cloudy this morning and cooler, but still sticky and humid. I finally broke down and turned the air conditioner on somewhere around 11:30. It's too darn early to turn it on, but I got sick of the humidity. It apparently did rain last night - my porch was wet this morning - but if we got a thunderstorm, I didn't hear it.

I did some stuff online after finishing the bathroom, then had a peanut butter and apricot fruit spread wrap for lunch. Headed for work after lunch. By this point, it was sunny, windy, and humid...but not quite as hot as yesterday, and the wind felt great on my back as I sped down the White Horse Pike.

Work was much busier than the weekend, though still not too bad. We had plenty of help for once, too. Since the first of the month was on a weekend, a lot of people may not have gotten their money or food stamps until now. There were no problems, and I was in and out quickly.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

My Own Little Fan

Started today with French Toast (made with my Broa corn bread, an egg and egg white, and buttermilk) and grapefruit for breakfast. Brunch With the Beatles had a good theme on today, too, "Questions and Answers," i.e, songs with questions in them, either in the titles or somewhere in the lyrics. I like it when they have a broad theme. They come up with some great stuff. (Songs heard today include "Do You Want to Know a Secret?", "If I Fell," the solo George Harrison song "What Is Life?," and the awesome Wings James Bond theme to "Live and Let Die.")

I called Mom twice before I finally caught her around noon. She was busy cleaning the house while Dad's out fishing and Keefe is babysitting. Though pollen season has largely seemed to subside here, Cape May County is apparently still in the midst of it. She and Dad made sure to have no trees in their back yard after the tree-filled yard in North Cape May gave them nothing but trouble...but all the neighbors around them have trees that apparently like to shed in their yard. I didn't get to talk to her for long. She was on her way out to rake the mess and clean.

Did a few things online and around the house after the Beatles show ended. I changed the American Girls dolls into their summer clothes. Felicity now wears her Pink Spring Dress and floral pinner apron. Samantha wears her "Middy" sailor dress. Little Jess wears her green Girl Scouts shorts with her striped "First Day" original outfit shirt. Poor Molly owns no summer clothing at all, and both of her summer outfits are on back order at the AG site. She'll just continue wearing her Birthday Pinafore until I or Mom can make her some shorts and a blouse or a summery 40s dress.

It was cloudy this morning, but by quarter of 2, the sun had come out. I decided to make a quick trip to WaWa and buy a hoagie for lunch. I'm glad it was quick. It's still really hot, in the upper 80s, though a nice breeze helped somewhat. I grabbed a small bag of pretzels and a Turkey and Swiss Junior hoagie for lunch. I had 20 minutes when I got home to wolf it all down, change, pack dinner, and head out.

Work wasn't too bad. At least, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be at the beginning of the month. It was steady when I got in, but by 7, it was so dead, I closed down early and cleaned up around the registers instead.

I needed a second, larger fan. My old box fan that I had in Wildwood died two years ago. I didn't bother replacing it because it was so chilly last summer. It's been so hot and sticky these last few days, though, that I really couldn't go without another fan unless I wanted to turn on the air conditioner early...which I didn't. I bought the last box fan they had and managed to ride it home balanced on my bike basket.

As far as I can tell, it works just fine. At least, it's a bit cooler in here. I'm hoping it'll help with air circulation, too. It also has slats to steady it, something my old box fan could have used.

Got home in time for the second half of The Dress Circle. "The Shows of May" was the theme tonight. This being the last qualifying month before the Tony Awards, they had lots to work with. I heard music from Gypsy, the Disney stage version of Tarzan, and the recent revivals of 110 In the Shade with Audra Ann McDonald and Sweet Charity with Christina Applegate.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Flowers and Leaves on May Day

I did manage to get up on time today, which was a good thing. I worked early, 10:30 (the last time I will be for a while - I work late all next week). I got up with enough time to get my rent together and leave it at my landlady's door. That's the third month I a row I managed to get it to her right on time. I hope I can keep doing that.

I left a bit early to check out some yard sales. I did get a couple of records from one in front of the condos on Reading Street, near Uncle Ken and Dad's house. I bought a Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy LP, the original cast albums for Guys and Dolls and Fiddler on the Roof, and one of the Perry Como Christmas LPs.

Work was busier than yesterday, but still far from crazy. We had a lot more help, too. Most of the orders were for parties and barbecues taking advantage of the hot weather, or proms or communions. There's apparently a lot of both going on this weekend. I saw one little girl with her hair already done up in curls and the prettiest veil. She'll look lovely in the white dress!

Despite the lower-80s heat and humidity, I really did want to finish the yard work today. I changed into shorts and a t-shirt when I got home, put my socks and sneakers back on, and went back outside. I swept the porch, then raked the side of the house leading to my apartment. It took me longer to sweep the fuzzies mess on the porch than to rake the remaining leaves on the side path.

Watched Hot Shots! Part Deux while crocheting and eating leftover chicken and asparagus for dinner. Part Deux is the 1993 follow up to the original Hot Shots, this time spoofing the Rambo series, bloody 80s action films, the First Gulf War, and war movies in general. The Gulf War/Saddam Hussein references make this a bit more topical than the first one...and thus, some of the jokes haven't aged as well. Otherwise, if you enjoyed the first romp with Topper Harley, you'll probably like the second one just as much.