Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Big Wiener

It was still gorgeous and fairly cool when I headed out for this week's Saturday errands. I checked out two yard sales nearby in Oaklyn. One was all baby toys; the other was all knick-knacks. Nothing of interest, so I moved on.

The Farm Market, on the other hand, was hopping! I could barely get in. Anyone who wasn't on vacation must have taken advantage of the behaving weather and decided to pick up some things for barbecues and family reunions. There were tons of dogs out today, too - a beautiful brown grayhound, a pug, an adorable golden retriever puppy, a collie with black-streaked fur, and several cute little terriers. I picked up plums, bok choy, little yellow apples, two organic cucumbers, two tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, and a small jar of Peach Butter from the orchard booth for a thank-you gift for the family in Cape May County for having me over. (I tried their Apple Salsa, too. Yum! It wasn't bad at all. A little spicy, but not intolerable.)

Headed straight home after that. Normally, I would have lingered, but I didn't have the time. I wanted to pack and get the rent together for my landlady. I got everything together but what I'd need tomorrow morning, like my cell phone and toothbrush. I tried to go online to check on my finances, but my internet kept going down. (Thankfully, it seems to be ok now.)

I was actually looking forward to working today. Today was the day the Wienermobile was at the Acme! Yes folks, the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was pulled up to the Acme between 10 and 5. We had a little fair around it. The Wienermobile had free hot dogs and soda, a raffle for a ride, and picture-taking sessions. The Acme organized a bake sale for "Make A Wish" and face painting. I bought a soft pretzel from the bake sale during my break, but the freebie food was long gone by then, and I didn't think the store would appreciate me having my face painted while I worked.

Other than some obnoxious beginning-of-the-month people, work went pretty well. It was steady at one, but by quarter of 6, it was so quiet, I offered to spend the last hour putting candy away and bagging for other cashiers.

And my schedule next week is...vacation! I'll be leaving to visit Mom and Dad in Erma around quarter after 9 tomorrow morning. I'll be there until Tuesday morning. I'm really looking forward to it. I haven't seen the family in Cape May County since Christmas Eve.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Breeze

The air conditioner was still on this morning when I woke up...but the moment I stuck my nose out the door, I knew there was no reason to keep it on. The weather was stunning. It had to be at least lower-mid 80s, breezy, and sunny as could be, with no humidity in sight. Perfect day for running chores and errands.

I went to the Acme first. Picked up my two vacation paychecks, then did my grocery shopping. In addition to food (yogurt, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, fish, shrimp, beef for stews, the Fiber One Granola Bars that were on a really good sale), I bought a Finding Nemo book and two Hot Wheels cars for my nephew Skylar, whose birthday is tomorrow, and a new pair of sunglasses for me. (My old pair got really scratched in my purse.)

Headed home after I finished shopping. My ride felt great, too. It was so nice, I decided to bake again after I put my groceries away. I just ran out of the Peach-Blueberry Muffins; had the last one with my shrimp and tomato-cucumber salad lunch. I did a variation on them, but replaced the blueberries with one of the small yellow apples I got at the farm market. They seemed to come out well enough, not too sweet.

I went across the street to Newton River Park after I left CVS. I'm so glad I went for that walk. It was a wonderful day for it. Everything is in bloom, thanks to all the storms we've had over the past few weeks. I rode the slide with the rollers and landed flat on my rear on the soft dirt ground, laughing my head off. I saw gorgeous wildflowers in beautiful shades of pink, peach, magenta, and purple. I saw a tree with strange, long seed pods that were woody and tough. The looked like giant green beans hanging off of the tree! I saw fat pale green-yellow pods with spiny coverings. I saw downy thistles being visited by enormous, mutant-sized bees.

I was hot and thirsty when I arrived back on West Clinton Avenue. I stopped at Leo's Yum Yums for something to quench my dry throat. I treated myself to a small Orange Vanilla Yum-Yum (a kind of creamier water ice) while watching an adorable little boy eat his chocolate soft-serve cone with his mother and grandmother.

After I finished, I went next-door to Doria's Deli. I picked up a half-pound of turkey and chatted with the owner. He suggested taking the NJ Transit River Line Train to Burlington City or Trenton as a day trip. I may look into that; it's something different, anyway.

Spent the rest of the day at home. I really needed to do the dusting, and the porch needed to be swept badly, too. As I was standing outside sweeping, I thought...wouldn't this be a nice night to eat outside? Which I did. I enjoyed my Chicken Taco with roasted fresh peppers and gray squash sauteed in white cooking wine outside. I haven't eaten outside this summer because it's been too hot. I've missed it. It felt so nice out there, with the lovely breeze.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Clean Up Balance

Started today with yoga class. It was mid-sized, 12 plus the teacher Karin. Good thing, too. We worked on balancing and on twisting poses. I can twist pretty well, but I can't get my leg all the way out to balance. At least I'm getting much better at bridge pose.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library next. The DVD cases looked somewhat better. Classics still hadn't been mixed in, and the kids' DVDs were still on the new releases shelf. Everything else had been thinned out and give more room, including the last shelf. Mysteries and horror also have their own section now, under "Suspense." I also shelved some non-fiction upstairs.

Headed home next. I had a quick lunch of leftover shrimp stir-fry, then continued cleaning. I vacuumed and did the windows. The windows were really bad. I didn't do them last month because the patriotic cardboard stars were still up then. The dust and cobwebs around the blinds was horrible!

I got to work right on time...but I needn't have rushed. Work was exactly the same as Tuesday - steady during rush hour, but dead otherwise.

It was on-and-off sunny today, and still hot and humid, but by the time I was riding home, there was a really nice breeze.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Libraries On the Run

I did a lot of library volunteering today, starting with the Oaklyn Library. I continued my attempt to clear out and re-organize the paperback series shelves. Did Goosebumps, Junie B. Jones, the Arthur chapter books, and The Magic Tree House. After that, I went straight to the Haddon Township Library. There wasn't much going on there; I just organized DVDs and kids' books. Didn't take anything out at either place. I have too much going on this week.

Made a very quick stop at Dollar Tree to buy a birthday card for my nephew Skylar (who will be turning six on Saturday) and a thank-you card for Mom and Dad for having me over next week. It was almost 2 by that point. My stomach was rumbling, but I didn't have the money for lunch, so I went home.

After a peanut butter and honey sandwich and a plum, I started in on the next part of the day - cleaning! I'd really like to get most, if not all, of the cleaning done this week before my vacation. I got a nice scrub in on the bathroom and kitchen. The bathroom in particular needed it. The tub was really bad.

I decided that a cooling swim was in order after I finished the kitchen. It felt really nice. It was hot and humid today, but neither as hot nor as humid as it was last weekend, and there was a wonderful breeze. The water reflected this - cooler than it was on Sunday, but not too cold. I was the only one out there. Uncle Ken and Dolores were inside watching NCIS re-runs, and no one else is home right now. It was wonderful and relaxing.

Dinner was nice, too. I made a shrimp-summer veggie stir-fry while watching Weekend at Bernie's. (I'm going to bone up on my vacation-themed movies this week.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Baking for A Birthday

First of all, I would like all my readers (especially one) to recall that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Any flames or nasty comments on this blog WILL be rejected, so don't bother sending them. I don't appreciate name-calling or trolls. I've been picked on all my life; I won't tolerate it online, too.

Otherwise, this was an ok day. I slept in and spent most of it baking. Tomorrow is Dad's birthday, but he's going on another cruise-ship job tomorrow morning and won't really be here. I baked Honey Squares. The recipe comes from the British baking book I bought at the thrift shop several years ago. It's a sticky bar cookie-cake, very tasty, low-fat, and quick to make. I gave half of them to Dad and will give the other half to the family in Cape May County to thank them for having me next week.

Work was almost exactly the same as yesterday - on-and-off steady during rush hour, otherwise dead. I was able to shut down and leave, even though my relief was late.

I tried running to the Oaklyn Library to return the late DVDs from there, but they were closed. I dropped the DVDs in the book return and will give them the money tomorrow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Perfect Weather, Beautiful Day

The gorgeous weather that rolled in after the storm yesterday afternoon continued today. I awoke to sunshine, 85 degree temperatures, and no humidity whatsoever. I slept in and was having a pleasant Cheerios and blueberries breakfast when there was a thump outside. I turned around to see a man drop a package on my porch (he didn't look too happy about it - I guess he didn't like hiking up to my apartment) and immediately pulled it in.

After I finally unwound the (copious) tape around it, I pulled out a box with the outfit I ordered for my Samantha doll off eBay, the Play Dress and Pinafore. I absolutely love it. So many of Sam's dresses are too ruffly and frou-frou for an ordinary energetic kid (even a rich one), but this one is just right. It's a blue windowpane check dress with a white ruffled pinafore and matching wide hair ribbon. (If you've read the books, Sam wears it in the very first chapter of her Meet story.) She's wearing it now with Springfield Collection socks and patent-leather shoes, and she looks SOOO cute! I seriously wish I'd gotten her this dress back in the mid-90s. In fact, this is the one outfit of hers that I've always regretted not getting, especially since it was retired before the rest of her collection. I'm really glad to have it.

It turned out to be a great start to a day that worked out very well. Laundry took less than an hour. It was far less busy than last week, just one woman with one load and a mom and her son with another load. It was so nice, when I came in, I dropped the bag of laundry in my bedroom and went for a quick 20-minute walk down to Goff Avenue to enjoy the beautiful weather. I wasn't the only one. There were a lot of people out riding bikes and working on their rejuvenated lawns today. I had a nice taco and peach lunch when I got home.

Work wasn't a problem, either. It was steady when I got in, dead when I left. I actually got a $5 gift coupon for improving my items-per-customer rate. I used it to treat myself to merangue cookies (the least fattening cookies I could get away with treating myself to) and pick up the Wesson Canola Oil that was on sale for $1.99 with coupon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Feeling the Rain

I talked with Lauren until quarter of 3 this morning and quite happily slept until 10:30. Listened to the second half of Brunch With the Beatles while making Peach-Blackberry Whole Grain Pancakes. ("The Beatles and the Summer of Love" was in the spotlight today. That was fine with me; it meant we heard songs from Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, which have some great music.)

I went on the computer after breakfast, but it did nothing but give me grief. The internet was running slow again. I uninstalled and installed the driver for the MP3 player four times, and it just wouldn't work. I finally gave up on it. I had enough trouble with it yesterday. I changed into my bathing suit and went back over to Uncle Ken's for a swim instead.

By the time I hit the pool, dark clouds were rolling over Oaklyn. It was still hot and humid, but not quite as hot as yesterday. This time, Uncle Ken and Dolores were the only ones home. I had a quiet, enjoyable swim.

Thunder was starting to rumble as I climbed out. I went across the driveway and over to the porch, where Dolores and Uncle Ken were listening to the Phillies/Rockies game. Even as I sat down, the announcers mentioned that the men were playing in heavy rain and thunder.

The storm found us about ten minutes later. It felt really great to be able to sit and watch the rain with Uncle Ken and Dolores. I don't get to see those two that often. They're usually out on some trip or errand when I'm around. They finally went inside when the game went on rain delay.

I leaned against the porch and watched the rain fall. It wasn't a really heavy, crazy rain like two weeks ago, but it was still a fairly good shower. As I watched it come down and the birds play in it, I remembered how my sisters and I used to love to play in the rain. We'd run out in our clothes, splash in puddles, and chase each other down the street.

I didn't want to just watch anymore. If the birds could, why not I? Besides, I was already wet and wearing my bathing suit. I ignored the lightening and the thunder's noisy growls and stepped onto the driveway. It felt so nice, so cool. I walked around the house's perimeter. I splashed in the few puddles that had gathered. I just stood in the middle of the driveway and let the cool rain wash over my face. It felt wonderful. Just...liberating.

Mother Nature must have felt pretty liberated, too. Uncle Ken and Dolores came back out for a little while to hear the game. When it became pretty obvious that neither the rain nor the delay were letting up, they went back inside...and I went out to enjoy the rain again. The wind was picking up along with the rain. It felt a hundred times cooler and less humid than it had when I was in the pool. I wasn't the only one who really needed this.

I would have stayed longer and watched the rain, but it was getting colder and windier by the minute. I was still just in my bathing suit and was beginning to freeze. With the game still on rain delay, Uncle Ken drove me home.

Since Mother Nature was now in a more amiable frame of mind, I decided to make use of the huge bounty of produce we've had lately and do some baking. I changed back into dry clothes, hung my bathing suit and towel to dry, and made a Peach-Berry Grunt via Alton Brown's Blackberry Grunt recipe. A peach joined blueberries and the rest of the blackberries, and I replaced half of the flour with whole wheat. Even with less sugar than the recipe called for, though, it was much too sweet. (It did taste very nice with a scoop of Bryers Cherry Vanilla, though.)

I watched Chinatown while having salad and leftover steak for dinner. Chinatown is the stylish tale of a private detective (Jack Nicholson) who runs up against corruption, real estate, and an unbuilt dam in a very dry LA circa 1935. Faye Dunaway is the socialite who may have a few skeletons in the closet of her own.

I love mysteries, and this is one of the best. While it lacks the grit and toughness of the real film noirs of the 40s and 50s, it has a genuinely interesting mystery, wonderful LA cinematography, and fine performances by Nicholson, Dunaway, and director James Huston as Dunaway's millionaire father.

After Chinatown ended, I went online. With the storm out of the area and the internet up and running again, I was able to listen to The Dress Circle in peace. The theme was "Cast Albums Released or Re-Released Recently by Masterworks Broadway," i.e Columbia's Broadway cast album section. Shows in the spotlight included the currently-on-Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, the 1962 City Center revival of Annie Get Your Gun with Ethel Merman, and the original casts of 1776 and the wonderful musical mystery City of Angels.

(Oh, by the way, the Phillies were losing 3-2 before the rain delay, but they apparently came back once the game started and won 4-3.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hot Enough to Fry a Cow On the Sidewalk

I don't know if it got up to 100 today, but it was very hot, and even worse, very humid. Nevertheless, I got quite a bit done. I ran the usual Saturday errands this morning. Checked out a yard sale. They were just selling baby toys, so I moved on to the bank. After I left there, I headed for the Collingswood Farm Market. They were surprisingly busy for such a hot day. I found lots of things I wanted to try - peaches, an ear of corn, tiny apples, tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, romaine lettuce, perfect purple eggplant, and the first regular-sized plums of the season.

I was sweating buckets when I finally got home. I put everything away, then thought I'd add music to my MP3 player for my visit to the family in Cape May County next weekend. I did manage to delete a bunch of old stuff and add a jazz CD and part of the first disc of the Birds, Bees, and Monkees special edition that I bought in February before I got a strange error that said "This USB Device can Perform Faster if Connected to Hi Speed USB 2.0 Port." I don't know why it said that. It WAS connected to a hi-speed 2.0 port. I checked three times. I rebooted twice and reset twice. Nothing seemed to change.

I got so frustrated, I finally decided to ignore the heat and go out to the mall behind the Acme and see if I could find an MP3 player. I didn't get an MP3 player, but I did finally buy a new pair of cheap sneakers to run errands in from The Shoe Depot and a new purse from Fashion Bug. (The lining on the old one was ripped, and I really wasn't that crazy about it. The handle wasn't nearly long enough, and it wasn't big enough for everything I haul in my handbag when I'm on a trip.) I took a look at MP3 players at Wal Mart and Staples, but I finally decided I'd see if I could do something about the old one.

After I got home, I changed into my bathing suit and went right over to Dad and Uncle Ken's for a swim. Dad's still out of town at a wedding, but Uncle Ken, Dolores, and several neighbors and Dolores' grandchildren Mercedes and Blake were around. I swam with the kids in the pool for a while, playing something called "Cattergories." You name a category (stuffed animals, TV shows), and everyone has to guess something in that category. If the person guesses something someone's picked, they have to chase them. If they make it to the other side, the other person is still it. Mercedes never did get anyone.

After I got home, I made a lovely dinner of steamed yellow squash and zucchini, cucumbers, and cornmeal-battered salmon. Oh, and Lauren helped me figure out what's going on with the computer. I'm going to have to re-install the problematic driver tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Miss Redmer In Acmeland

Yup, I ended up working for most of the day. I got called in around 9, though I wasn't able to get there until quarter of 11. That's ok. For one thing, I went in for several adults who don't normally call out sick unless there's an emergency. I need to make up for that lost hour last week, too. And I discovered when I got my schedule this evening that I only have 21 hours next week. That'll give me a lot of time to get ready for vacation, but it won't be great for my paycheck.

We were really busy for most of the day, too. Didn't help that I was frazzled and tired. I also had to go grocery shopping after work. Good thing I didn't need much, mostly meat, seafood, olive oil, and yogurt.

I did get to watch the new live-action Disney Alice In Wonderland this morning and later this evening while eating tacos for dinner. I'm not normally the biggest fan of Tim Burton, but I really enjoyed this. This Alice is a teenager, a young woman who feels constrained by the rules of propriety in Victorian society. She's being pushed into marrying a wishy-washy Lord, but what she really wants is to do "six impossible things before breakfast."

When she falls into "Underland," she finds a world both the same as and quite different than the ones we're accustomed to in the books, one both enchanting and frightening. Alice discovers that she can take charge and slay the beast...including the one in her own heart.

On one hand, the "yo go girl" heroics aren't exactly true to the book or the time period. This has more in common with recent fantasy tales like The Golden Compass and the 2000s Narnia adaptations than any version of Alice In Wonderland. It's also much darker than many Alices tend to be, including Disney's animated film.

On the other hand, the special effects are absolutely amazing (check out the Bandersnatch, the Tweedle brothers, and the Griffith). The costumes are awesome. Alice alone wears at least five or six different ones throughout the film. There's some fine performances, too, including Helena Bonham Carter's Queen of Hearts and Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter. This is highly recommended for fans of Tim Burton, Alice In Wonderland, or fantasy...but go in with a mind that's open to alternative interpretations.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Starting Balanced, Ending Off-Center

I awoke to the nicest weather we've had in months. It was sunny, but the haze had vanished, revealing a robin's-egg-blue sky. It couldn't have been above the mid-80s, and there wasn't a smidge of humidity. It was perfect weather for July in southern New Jersey, and a great start for this week's yoga class.

Today's class was medium-sized, 13 people counting my friend Pattie and the teacher Karin. We had plenty of room to work on heart-openers and back-bends. I've gotten so much better at the bridge pose! I can now do it without trouble. I still can't do full wheel, but I'll keep trying.

Next stop was the thrift shop. I found American Graffiti and West Side Story on DVD and a vintage Tom and Jerry Golden book called Tom and Jerry's Party. Erica also gave me the good news that, as of now, the thrift shop will be open until at least November. (I wouldn't be surprised if they kept it open even longer than that. It's just too popular to close.)

The Collingswood Library was next on my to-do list. They'd attempted to fix the poorly-organized children's DVDs by moving them to the new releases shelves. It just made things look worse. There isn't enough room. I put everything away as best I could, then suggested to FA, the librarian on duty, that they completely overhaul their DVD shelves. They have these beautiful shelves and a wonderful DVD collection, but they're so badly done, you'd never know it.

First of all, they can remove the classics section all together and mix those in with the other DVDs. What makes a classic? Just because a movie is older than 1970 doesn't automatically make it a "classic." I pulled at least seven movies from elsewhere that I knew were musicals, and one that was a foreign film. And sorry, but there isn't much anyone can do about the kids' DVDs. They either need to find a better shelf for that, or just admit that kids will be kids and they're going to have to organize that a lot.

Went straight home after that. It was so nice out, I made Peach-Blueberry Muffins, then had one with yogurt and blackberries for lunch. I went briefly online to confirm something Erica said about it getting up to 100 here by Saturday. It says upper 90s - 100 is probably for the metro Philly area. As long as it's not humid, I don't care. I'm off Saturday as of this second anyway. If it gets really bad, I can hide in the air conditioning or Dad's pool.

Work wasn't anywhere near as pleasant as the morning. I don't know why, but people were really rude and ignorant today. One old lady got angry when her coupons didn't come off. She didn't buy the brands the coupons were for! Instead of saying, "Oops, silly me, I read those wrong. Can you get the right items, or maybe I'll do it?", she threw a fit and blamed me and the store for getting everything wrong!

(I discovered during break when I was reading the flyer for next week that she wouldn't have been able to use the coupons anyway, even if she'd had the right items. The coupons were for the sales that start tomorrow. She must have gotten the flyer today and been confused...though that was still no excuse for rudeness.)

Another lady shoved a nearly-perfect loaf of bread under my nose and said, "Take it off, it's smashed. The lady I'm buying for doesn't like smashed bread." The loaf had two slices that were very slightly smushed. She eventually kept it and said she'd eat the two "smushed" slices herself. She was rude and fussy in general, too, muttering and whining about how she had to hurry because, oh, she was trying to impress such important people and everything just HAD to be right. Impressing people is also not an excuse for rudeness. Even the lady behind her said she was being rude.

I was very upset and angry when I got home. I called Mom to calm down and because I haven't heard from her in a while. She was working on a new scarf for her sister Terri and trying to help my brother, who is making a shadow box for his girlfriend Vicki. Speaking of Aunt Terri, her son Adam's wedding seems to have gone very well last week, despite a lot of guests not coming.

Oh, and I confirmed my vacation with them. I'll be in Erma between August 1st and 3rd.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Down in the Sweet Valley

I slept in and didn't get out for today's volunteering at the Oaklyn Library until nearly 11:30. Once again, it was hazy, hot, and incredibly humid. It was too hot just walking the ten minutes from my apartment to the library.

I decided to take on a big project today. There's a special set of shelves for the many paperback kids' and teens' series the library has, but it's a mess. I started with the very long-running Sweet Valley High series. For those of you who didn't grow up in the 80s and 90s and/or aren't female, Sweet Valley High (and it's later spin-offs, Sweet Valley University and Sweet Valley Twins) is an extremely long-running series of melodramas about Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, a set of perfect blond teen girls in a California town, their older brother, and their endless multitude of friends and rounds of boyfriends.

I was about 8 when I first started reading this series. Yes, I know that's young for what's essentially a very long-running soap opera for teen girls, but they were some of the first chapter books I ever read. I've always been a really good reader, far ahead of the other kids in my classes. I read them for about two years before I finally lost interest. Unlike many of my interests, this isn't one I've been able to ever pick up again. The stories are pure, unadulterated corn. Name a soap opera disaster, and it's probably befallen the Wakefield twins or someone in their school - death, disease, (temporary) blindness, kidnapping, cults, Romeo and Juliet-esque love affairs, divorce, reconciliation, broken dreams. They also have an incredibly 80s sensibility, from the emphasis on many rich characters and how money cures all ills to some of the more Dynasty-like plotlines. There's also a very distinct lack of diversity. You don't see anything besides white kids until well into the 60th books.

On the other hand, I always did like the hard-working Elizabeth, who shares my fondness for writing and is usually rather sensible, compared to many of the ridiculous characters in this series. I wasn't as fond of her obnoxious, me-first twin Jessica, who gets her sister to pull some pretty outrageous stunts and tends to fight with her as much as they get along.

Rearranging the Sweet Valley High books made me realize just how bad of shape the paperback series mysteries were. Most of them were least, the ones with more than two or three books. There were some series, like Horrible Harry and Rainbow Fairies, with only two or three books in a series. Others, like Pink Flamingos, were leftover from the girls' series fad of the 80s and early 90s and hadn't lasted for very long anyway. And there were multiple copies of more than half the Sweet Valley High books! I didn't even get them all done before I realized it was getting late and I wanted to have lunch.

I went for a short walk around the neighborhood next to the library. It was too hot for a long one. Stopped at Doria's Deli for a Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, then went home for lunch. I made a big steak and green bean lunch and had a small dinner of an apple, blueberry light yogurt, and a granola bar.

I took two movies out of the Oaklyn Library. Scooby Doo: Abracadabra Doo was to make up for the other Scooby Doo movie I took out of Haddon Township that didn't work, and for some reason, Haddon Township hasn't gotten the live-action Disney Alice In Wonderland with Johnny Depp from this spring yet.

I did Abracadabra Doo during lunch. It was a cute tale of Velma's little sister Madelyn calling the gang to her new school for stage musicians...which, of course, is in a castle brought over from Scotland that's being terrorized by a griffin. While Daphne gets jealous of Fred eyeing one of the teachers, we discover that Madelyn has quite a crush on Shaggy. (I always knew that stoner had the heart of a gentleman. A cowardly gentleman, but a gentleman.) Nothing you haven't seen before, but kind of fun if you're into Scooby and fantasy.

I spent a few hours messing around online, then changed into my work clothes, had a very quick yogurt dinner, and rode to work. Work was no problem whatsoever. It was steady but not crazy until about 9, after which it died quickly. I spent the last 20 minutes doing returns.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

At the Library

I made an early run to the Haddon Township Library today. It was cloudy, but not dark enough for the kind of storms we've been having lately. The heat and humidity lingered, but neither were as heavy as the last few days. I made one short stop at Super Fresh, then headed across the street.

The Haddon Township Library was hopping, even a mere half-hour after opening. Today was one of the kids' story hours, and the cart was overflowing with their just-returned DVDs. There were also a ton of non-fiction DVDs to return, the most I've ever seen checked out at one time. (Perhaps parents are trying to give their children lessons during the summer?)

I browsed the library for a little while after I finished with the DVDs. I took out four DVDs myself - Chinatown, Sweet Charity, another Care Bears disc, and a pirate-themed Scooby Doo movie. I also grabbed two guide books on the Philadelphia/Amish County area, and two kids' books, Wind In the Willows (which sounds like a good summer book to me), and Dancing Shoes, another one of Noel Streatfeild's Shoes series (which includes one of my favorite books, Ballet Shoes).

My stomach started rumbling around 1:30. Time to head out and get some lunch. I went back across the street to the Bagel Shop. Had a simple Turkey and Provolone Cheese Sandwich on a pumpernickel bagel with fries and pickle chips as the soaps ran. The place was pretty quiet. The only other person there was a guy reading the local paper, The Retrospect.

I had debated going for a longer bike ride, but it was still cloudy. The clouds weren't heavy and it wasn't that humid, but after the weather we've had in the last few weeks, I didn't want to take chances. Not to mention, I didn't want to spend money, either, and I inevitably end up browsing in local stores during these jaunts. I just rode home.

I tried to watch Scooby Doo: Pirates Ahoy! when I got in. The movie took a while to load, but it worked...for about the first 20 minutes. After that, it slowed down and wouldn't run right. And no wonder. When I took the DVD out and flipped it over, I discovered it had more scratches than an 80-year-old vinyl record! The Care Bear DVD was fairly scratched, too, but it did run all the way through. It was a disappointment after the last disc, though, mostly episodes I'd already seen two or three times on CBS.

Bored, I decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and get outside. I changed into my bathing suit and went for a swim at Dad and Uncle Ken's. Jodie was just coming over as I was and Dolores was chatting with two of her grown children on the porch. Otherwise, it was pretty quiet. No kids or buddies around this time! I went for a short, sweet swim. The water was slightly cooler than Saturday, but still not anywhere resembling cold.

I had a lovely dinner of tilapia with peppers and mushrooms and honey-glazed carrots when I got home. I was going to leave the air conditioner off, but while it isn't as hot as it was, it still isn't cool enough to go without extra air, either.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Storm Front

It's a good thing I slept in this morning. There was a huge thunder storm going on when I got up around 8:30. It wasn't quite as bad as last Wednesday, but it was still pretty noisy. It wasn't as long as last Wednesday, either. It was long-over by the time I finished breakfast and headed out to do this week's laundry.

The laundromat was really busy this week. I barely got a washer or a dryer. There were lots of people doing bags and bags of clothes! It was noisy and a bit hard to concentrate, but I did read some of Simple Abundance. I'm hoping to continue reading these self-help books, at least until I have the money to find a life coach. For now, I'd like to counsel myself.

And I've decided that I'm not going to attempt the New York day trip on my vacation week next month. First of all, while I can afford going down Cape May County (which probably won't cost more than $15 or $20 one-way), a one-way ticket to New York costs $35...and that's before you figure in the train or bus ride to the 30th Street Station. Dad's said he's not going to be around early next month, too. I'd have to take a bus to Cherry Hill and back. That's not a big deal when you can catch the train on your own time, but it's more of a problem when you're on a deadline. Plus, I'd be coming home at night, which I'm iffy about.

There's lots of other places around here I can go on a day or overnight trip to. I've been wanting a longer trip to Atlantic City, since my day in AC with Lauren ended up being so short. Ocean City is another possibility. I've never been to the King of Prussia Mall, or the Cow Town Rodeo and Flea Market in Woodstown, NJ, and I haven't been to Clementon Park (a small family amusement park not unlike Six Flags Great Escape) in years.

There was a message on my answering machine when I got home. A manager from the Acme had called; could I come in early? It was past 12:30 when I got home and I was supposed to work at 2, but I figured that I needed the money. I was able to put away my laundry and eat my Peanut Butter and Blueberry Butter on Honey Whole Wheat Toast sandwich in record time, and got an extra half-hour of work in.

Work, as it turned out, wasn't much trouble tonight. It was busy when I came in, dead enough when I left that my relief was late and I was still able to shut down and leave on time. Good thing, too. Dark clouds had been gathering since about 6. By 7, they were reaching critical mass. I got lucky. The clouds were still just hanging there as I bought milk. By the time I was on the Black Horse Pike, it was starting to sprinkle and thunder slightly. The storm didn't pick up speed until at least 20 minutes after I got inside.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today

Though it remains hot and humid, I decided to take advantage of my early work shift and return a few more things I couldn't use. I had Blueberry Whole Grain Pancakes with honey for breakfast while listening to the first hour of the Brunch With the Beatles show on WOGL. (The movie A Hard Day's Night was in the spotlight this morning.)

I wasn't able to finish the show due to work being at 11:30. Work zipped right along today. It was busier than it has been on the weekends, and much busier than last weekend. There were no major problems, and my relief was right on the dot. I headed out as soon as he arrived.

I made a very quick stop at Fashion Bug to look at purses (the lining in my current one ripped), then rode over to Wal Mart to return the two bike inner tubes that were the wrong size. (As it turns out, Wal Mart no longer sells the right size.) I still had the receipt for the one I bought last week, but I searched all over my apartment this morning and could not find the one for the other one I bought last month. Thankfully, I was able to return it with ID. The returns went without a hitch. I looked at toys for my nephew Skylar for a little while, but I eventually just bought contact solution.

Spent the rest of the evening at home. After I got in and changed, I swept the porch. It was still hot and humid, but there was a wonderful wind blowing across the yard. When the porch was clean, I made an early dinner of pepper steak, tomatoes and cucumbers with low-fat Italian dressing, and brown rice, then treated myself to a small bowl of Banana Fudge Hand-Dipped Ice Cream from Leo's Yum-Yums around the corner.

I had a few problems getting onto The Dress Circle tonight. There must still be storms in the area, because my Internet has been going down and going slow all evening. It seems to be running fine now, but I didn't get to hear much of The Shows of July and August.

(Note the two months together. The summer is traditionally a slow time in the theater, dating back to when theaters didn't have air conditioning. This has changed somewhat with the advent of cooling systems, but most shows still opt to open in the spring or fall. Hits that braved the hotter weather include Hairspray and the original casts of 1776 and La Cage Aux Follies.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

When You're Hot, You're Hot

I got quite a bit done today, despite the ongoing extreme heat and humidity. Got up early and spent the morning running the usual Saturday farm market and bank errands. The Collingswood Farm Market was really busy, but I managed to make my way through the crowd pretty quickly. Good thing, too. I needed a lot this week - peaches, an ear of corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, blueberries, blackberries, green beans, carrots, Crimini mushrooms, honey whole wheat bread, Colby cheese, and the first small yellow apples of the year. I also bought something called gray squash - lighter-colored zucchini. I thought I'd try it.

I checked out one yard sale during my ride, but it was mostly selling baby toys and had nothing of interest to me. I was home by 10:30. I had an early lunch (made a Peanut Butter and Blueberry Butter Sandwich to finish off the 9 Grain Bread), then decided to make a short mall trip. I wanted to finally return the shorts with the broken zipper that I bought from the JCPenny at the Cherry Hill Mall in mid-May. I went over to Dad's to see if Jessa wanted to join me, but she was at work. My cousin was in the pool when I was there, and Dad said his siblings would be along in a while, not to mention my sister, her son, and a couple of her friends. I told him I wouldn't be at the mall long.

And I wasn't. I took the bus to Cherry Hill that leaves from next to the Acme in Audubon and also lets off on the Black Horse Pike at Audubon Park. The bus lets off between LensCrafters and Old Navy, which is two stores down from JCPenny. I went right to the first sales desk in the store and returned my defective shorts right away. I browsed in the mall for an hour, then took the bus home and walked back to my apartment. I don't think the trip took more than three hours - an hour round-trip by bus, an hour round-trip to walk to the Black Horse Pike, and the hour in the mall.

When I got home, I changed into my bathing suit and walked over to Dad's and Uncle Ken's. I arrived to a full house. My cousin Samantha and her husband David went to Atlantic City for the night to see a concert, leaving Faith, Matt, and Ethan in the care of Uncle Ken and his girlfriend Dolores. We also had my other cousin Amber and her daughter Ella...and her announcement that she's three months pregnant with a daughter. There was another cousin and her son, and Dolores' grandson Blake.

Rose and her baby son Khai arrived a bit later. I was out swimming in the pool with the kids when they appeared. The pool felt so warm today! It was up to 86 and felt like bathwater. I swam with the kids for at least an hour, then went inside and chatted with Rose and came back outside and swam for another half-hour. After that, Uncle Ken and Dolores ordered pizza for them, the kids, their parents, and me.

Even as the kids were going home and Uncle Ken was settling down his grandchildren, Rose's friends Laura and Joey arrived. They're old buddies of hers from Lower Cape May Regional High School. Another high school pal of Rose's, Colleen, was already there. I used to love it when they all got together at our house when they were going to school together. They were so funny. They still are. I sat and listened to them while Jodie played with Khai and Dad swam in the pool for another hour. I didn't go home until they were trying to decide whether or not to buy Indian food around 8:30 - apparently, it gives Joey rather bad gas. I'd already eaten, and I needed a shower badly.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hot Hot Hot!

Ugh. It continued to be hot, hazy, and humid today. I slept in, then spent some time volunteering at the Oaklyn Library, mostly organizing children's books. After that, I went for a walk. Stopped at 7-11 and bought a cup of honeydew and cantaloupe chunks and a very salty soft pretzel for lunch. (And was reminded why I don't go into that 7-11 more often when the Middle Eastern guy behind the counter started asking questions that got a little too personal for my liking.) I ran to CVS to buy some Draino, but the guy in front of me took so long to buy money orders, I put the bottle back and went home empty-handed.

I hung out at my place and read until it was time to go to work. Work was on-and-off busy all night, with no major problems other than some annoying customers. I didn't even have much to buy after I finished, mostly whole wheat flour, yogurt, a small shoulder steak for pepper steak, granola bars, and dish washing liquid. I had lovely dinner of salmon, sauteed summer vegetables, and very sweet Jersey corn on the cob when I got home.

My schedule for this week is pretty decent, too. I have Tuesday and Saturday off, with only one day that's later than 7...but that day is 5:30 to 10 on Wednesday. I only hope I don't need a ride that night. Most of the people I know don't stay up that late.
Monkees Role Play Story Posted

Just posted this month's action-packed Monkees role-play story, The Monkees and the Malibu Beach Treasure Hunt. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Restful Balance

I worked at 1 today, so I kept my morning chores to just yoga class. I'm glad I did. It felt very relaxing after all the stress and craziness yesterday. It was a medium-sized class, about 12 including me and the teacher Karin. We worked on hip openers and standing poses. I was able to do very high "donkey kicks" again, but I still can't get on my head. I guess my shoulders aren't strong enough.

Went straight home after class. I'm tired from all the walking I've done this week; my legs are still sore. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on editing this month's Monkees role-play story. It's a riff on The Goonies and treasure-hunting; look for it later tonight.

I'm so glad the weather behaved today after yesterday. It was humid and hot, but not quite as much of either as it had been. I saw where the flooding was yesterday on my way to Collingswood. The underpass on West Clinton Avenue, next to the Oaklyn Manor Bar, was a mess; I had to duck around several banks of mud. According to several customers yesterday, the one on Nicholson Road was just as bad.

Also unlike yesterday, I made it to work just fine. It was off-and-on busy with no major problems.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Washed Out

The day began quietly. I slept in and spent most of the morning and early afternoon crocheting and watching That's Entertainment. It was cloudy and not really hot, but very, very humid. I figured if it rained, I would just break down and call for a ride.

By the time I was having leftover beef and potato stew and a zucchini-carrot muffin for lunch, the humidity had erupted into a full-fledged storm. There were cracks of thunder that could be heard on Mars, and the rain was coming down in torrents. I hadn't seen such a storm since that huge one we had last year that flooded the Acme's first few aisles. How bad was the rain? I got soaked just going the two minutes from my front door down to my landlady's porch to wait for Dad.

But Dad couldn't come. He called me and said he'd tried, but some of the roads were flooded and he couldn't get around. I would just have to be late. I called the Acme and told them what was going on, then spent the next 40 minutes or so trying to find out which roads were closed. I couldn't understand which ones Dad said on my cell phone. My cell phone turned out to be pretty useless for doing anything online, though. My cell phone is an older model; all I could look up were ring tones and wallpaper, neither of which would help me during a major thunderstorm.

It was quarter after 3 by the time I looked up and saw that the rain had slowed down quite a bit. I decided that Dad probably wouldn't be able to get through a flood and ended up walking. I found a plastic bag in the pocket of my raincoat and used it to carry my sneakers and socks to keep them dry. I walked to work barefoot, just in case I had to wade through flood waters. I didn't - the water at the river near the Oaklyn ramp was high, but not spilling over. I did get to splash in some puddles, though. The rain had slowed down so much that I was more wet from sweat than from the storm.

After I arrived, I put my shoes back on and went into work. As it turned out, they weren't in desperate need of me anyway. The woman I was originally supposed to relieve had called out. I was able to come in for the cashier going home at 4 o'clock. In fact, it got so dead later, I spent two hours later in the night doing returns.

Dad wasn't happy when I called him at 9:30. I called him while walking down Kendall and told him I wasn't sure when I would be coming home. He was on his way to bed. I assumed he'd send Jessa or Jodie, but he came. He said he'd been worried about me earlier. I hadn't realized he'd called me before I called him because I was online for so long. I'm just not used to people worrying about me. I'm not used to calling people to do anything for me, and it still makes me feel guilty.

First of all, I learned during my childhood that you do things yourself, because you can't always expect someone else to be around for you. It amazes me how many people around here - children and adults - just assume that someone else will do things for them and that their parents will always be near-by. We didn't have family near-by growing up in Cape May. The closest relatives were in Virginia and Northern New Jersey, and my parents weren't speaking to most of the rest anyway. We did things for some elderly neighbors, but people seldom did anything for us.

Second, I prefer to do things myself, my own way. I spent so much of my life with people sending me to this remedial class or that group, taking me away from "the norm" because they thought I couldn't handle it. I want to show everyone in the whole world that I can handle things just fine with no extra help and no need to take me away.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fixing a Hole

It's a good thing I slept until 9:30 this morning. I awoke to a rather nice little thunderstorm. It wasn't as noisy as some of the ones we've had in the past month, but it was rather heavy for a while. By the time I'd read a little and finished writing in my journal, around 10, the storm was gone. It did nothing to alleviate the stiffing humidity, but it was a bit less hot.

The Acme called me around 11. I still feel bad for not calling them back, but I really wanted to fix my bike. It's one thing to walk or get a ride for a day or two, but I wasn't going to have another day off until Saturday. Not to mention, my legs are still sore from my hikes yesterday, and I'm still a bit tired.

I went online after breakfast to start editing this month's Monkees role-play and look up local bike shops. I was going to ask Dad where the shops in Cherry Hill were and if I could reach them by bus. My original intention was to take the bus to Cherry Hill from the Haddon Township Library, but Dad ended up driving me. Maybe it was just as well. It was 1:30 by then; traffic was a bit heavy with people returning from lunches.

We ended up at the Erlton Bike Shop, a small but densely-packed store on busy Route 70. I couldn't help but notice that more than half the bikes for sale at Erlton were cruiser bikes like mine, with no wires or gears. I never see cruiser bikes at Wal-Mart. While a younger man helped a group of kids get their new bike (in tangerine), an older man found the bike tube size I wanted. He had "hundreds of them," in his words. Wal-Mart didn't even have one. I bought three. I will definitely not be buying any more bike items of any kind from a department store. From now on, I'll either take a bus to Cherry Hill, beg a ride, or order them online. The selection is just better.

After we got home, I left Dad working on his guitar and headed back to my place. Unlike the last time I changed my bike tire back in December, I got it done in about 20 minutes and with a minimum of blue language. The trees around the apartment shaded me from a sudden shower. I barely felt it, other than water getting in the tire.

It was almost 3 after I pumped the tire. It was too late for bus rides, but I could still get some errands in. I rode over to Dollar Tree for toothbrushes and rain ponchos (just in case), then headed for the Haddon Township Library. The DVD rack was overflowing today, and I spent quite a bit of time getting it done. It helped that it wasn't nearly as busy this afternoon as it had been the last time I went to the library. I took out another New York City guide book (Fodor's most recent), then went on my way.

I was in the library for so long, I didn't leave until after 6. My ride home was a pain. I went through Newton River Park, but I hit a patch of dense, heavy, clay-like mud on my way. I was glad I was able to stay on, but my bike tires and sneakers were a mess. I turned on the hose and gave the bike a good spraying when I finally got in.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Walk Like a Woman

I made a frustrating discovery this morning when I was going out to do my laundry. The front tire on my bike was flat again. I guess the patching that Michael did on the inner tube could only hold for so long. Oh, well. I was going to take a walk today anyway for exercise.

I just walked to the laundromat. I couldn't put it off. I had a lot to do. I was washing one of the bath rugs and my new sheets in addition to clothes. I'd been meaning to do the sheets for weeks, but hadn't gotten around to it. It was really busy when I arrived, but I did get a washer and a dryer. I love the laundromat. A load that would have taken an hour and a half or more to wash and dry at Dad and Uncle Ken's house took less than an hour.

I got to do some reading and some thinking while I was in the laundromat. I'm currently reading a book called This Year I Will..., on fulfilling whatever it is that you want to do but haven't yet. Right now, I'm focusing on losing weight. I want to join a gym, but gyms are expensive, and I don't have much money. I'm going to walk three or four times a week and swim two or three times a week, and of course, continue going to yoga class.

To be honest, it doesn't seem to be working yet. I was still at 203 pounds as of yesterday. (Although a certain womanly time of the month that's notorious for adding a few pounds may be part of the current problem.) Of course, it took me a week or two to really start losing weight the last time. My problem is, I seem to be stuck on a big plateau that I can't get past.

I've cut down on junk, too. Of course, part of it is necessity. It's too hot right now to make junk, and there's plenty of ingredients to make baked goods that are good for you floating around at this time of the year. I'm not a huge fan of a lot of junk food to begin with. I don't like greasy chips, eat fast food once in a while, and will only buy ice cream when it's on a really good sale or buy the frozen yogurt from Leo's Yum Yums. I also learned to curb my peanut butter addiction from the winter with real nuts. I've been into almonds lately. A handful more than satisfies me.

I ended up walking to work. Even though it was hot and humid, I really hated having to call for a walk. It makes me feel guilty. Besides, people aren't always around to give me rides. Not to mention, I wanted to go to Wal Mart before work and get a pump and see if they had the right size bike tube. I bought a 24...which turned out to be the wrong size as well. I need a 26 2 3/4, or something bigger than the one I have. I'll take them back later this month. (I'm going to need to get something for my nephew's birthday anyway.)

Work was really, really busy, especially compared to over the weekend! We had long lines well into the evening. It slowed down a bit by the time I went home, but it was never really dead.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lazy Day By the River

Today was a pretty quiet day. It was still hazy and humid when I got up around 9:30. It was also cloudy, which meant it wasn't quite as hot as last week. I made Peach Brown Sugar Corn Cakes (pancakes with corn meal, a bruised peach, and brown sugar) for breakfast and had the usual chat with Mom.

Mom was in the midst of cleaning. She seemed pretty happy, despite having a wild week at work. No wonder it's been quiet here. I was right - everyone DID go down to the Shore. According to Mom, the Michael's in Rio Grande where she works was so busy these past two weekends, she could barely get in the door, much less to a register! Traffic's been horrible, too. And the Michael's air conditioning isn't working, so she's been hot, too.

I listened to the Brunch With the Beatles show while I finished my corn cakes. ("Beatles and Solo Beatles #1 Hits: 1964-1975" was the theme today.) After the Beatles ended, I read for a while and put together a crock-pot beef and potato stew for lunch, then went for a walk.

I ended up at the park behind the Oaklyn School. The field that doubles as the school's playground and baseball fields is a busy place, even at this time of the year. When the kids leave, it fills up with I discovered the hard way when I stepped on one last year while walking across the field. I didn't step on one today, thank goodness, but it was a bit nerve-wracking. There were so many bees, and they all seemed huge. I did get home unharmed this time. I really have to stop wearing open-toed shoes while crossing that field in the summer.

The sun had started to come out even before my walk. By the time I was finishing my simple lunch of a slice of 9-grain bread with peanut butter and a spinach salad, it was sunny and hot again. I sighed, changed into my work uniform, and headed for the Acme.

Work was steady, busier than yesterday but not as bad as it usually is on a Sunday. There were no major problems anywhere. My relief was a little early, which meant I got to get going a little early...and enjoy the weather. I emerged to a brilliant blue, cloudless sky. It was still really hot, but the haze and humidity had vanished with the clouds.

I discovered to my dismay when I got home that the crock pot had overflowed a little. I knew I put too much celery in! It didn't make a huge mess, but it was annoying. On the other hand, it tasted great. I had a lovely dinner of stew and a muffin before hopping in the shower.

Got to hear The Dress Circle for the first time in ages tonight. Their theme was "An All-Star 'Chess' Concert." Chess is a 1985 musical written by members of ABBA. It was one of the big British musicals of the 80s. Unfortunatly, though it was a huge success in London, that didn't end up repeating in America, and it hasn't been done elsewhere or revived. From what I understand, it has the same problem as such favorites of mine as Steel Pier and Mack and Mabel - great score, overly melodramatic book about a Russian chess player who wants to defect, or something like that. The emphasis on Cold War politics also makes it a very dated book. Shame, because some of the music is fabulous, including "Nobody's Side," "Pity the Child," and the hits "One Night In Bangkok" and "I Know Him So Well."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mother Nature Makes Up Her Mind

Yes, Mother Nature made up her mind about the weather today. It was cloudy and humid but much cooler when I headed out for this week's Saturday morning errands. It started to sprinkle when I was at the bank. The rain got harder after I arrived at the farm market. Thank goodness I didn't have much to buy anyway. I just picked up blueberries, peaches, blackberries, zucchini, yellow squash, corn, and cherry and beefsteak tomatoes.

The rain picked up on my way home from the farm market. I was dripping wet when I walked in the door. (Needless to say, I saw no yard sales today.) I spent the rest of the morning taking advantage of the weather to bake Zucchini and Carrot Muffins. I opened the windows to give the air conditioner a rest. It was probably only in the lower-mid 80s, but it was soooooo humid! The air seemed to be thicker than seafood chowder.

It showered for most of the morning. I debated calling for a ride to work, but the rain had settled down into a drizzle by quarter of 2. I rode my bike. It was still drizzling, but nothing like earlier in the morning.

Work was busy when I started my shift, but it cleared out so quickly that I spent the last two hours doing returns...and there weren't even many returns to do. Needless to say, there were no major problems and I was in and out on time. (I'm a bit surprised it was so dead after the farm market was crowded this morning, even in the rain. A lot of people must have headed to the Shore this afternoon.)

It was still humid when I rode home, but the clouds were breaking up and the rain was gone. Looks like it's probably going to stay that way this week - a bit warmer, but not as hot as last week...but still humid.

Friday, July 09, 2010

In All Kinds of Weather

First of all, I would like to ask the person who keeps posting in my comments that I'm autistic and I ought to go to a doctor before I hurt someone to please stop posting here. I'm not autistic. I've been given tests that prove that I'm not autistic. Severe social anxiety is not autism, and I have no desire to hurt people. In fact, that's the last thing on the planet I want to do - to anyone. If you attempt to post in my comments again, you will be rejected. Thank you for your concern..

Mother Nature was really weird today. When I headed to the Oaklyn Library this morning, it was sunny. I spent about an hour in there. They were doing something with the DVD and videos. I think they were trying to separate "teen" movies from "kids" movies from "adult" movies, but someone has a weird idea of what those three groups would be interested in. Since when were teenagers into Forrest Gump or a really bad Tim Allen/Kirstie Alley vehicle from over a decade ago? And no matter how much they might want to see them, the Harry Potter movies are really too intense for most younger kids. I had a much easier time with the kids' books.

When I got outside, it had clouded over...sort of. There were clouds, but they were broken up and showing blue sky underneath. It was spitting a little when I walked over to WaWa for an unsweetened fountain iced tea with a little cherry and vanilla syrups and a banana for a snack.

The little shower turned into a rather big one as I headed towards West Clinton Avenue. I first hid under the bus stop in front of City Hall to avoid the rain, then at 7-11 across the street. I was going to go down to CVS, then walk past Dad and Uncle Ken's and over the tracks, but I didn't trust the weather. I turned down West Clinton when the rain slowed and walked which time, the sun was starting to come out, of course.

I spent a half-hour or so finishing The Tale of Applebeck Orchard. I enjoyed the Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales series in general. Linda Young is right that some of them (like Briar Bank) get a little too involved with the animals, though thankfully that was less of a problem in Applebeck. However, these are fairly meandering stories with little plot, and the mysteries are never worse than arson and accidental deaths. This isn't for heavy mystery lovers, but fans of gentler historical fiction and historic cozy mysteries may enjoy them.

It was sunny again when I had green beans, tomatoes with mayo, and Jen's smoked salmon for lunch. (By the way, thanks again, Jen. It was delicious! I'll have the rest later this week.) However, the clouds had appeared again as I changed into my uniform and packed mini-backpack with a bag for grocery shopping later. It started raining as I left...even though it was sunny! It had stopped by the time I was at work, and I'm a little disappointed I didn't see a rainbow.

Work was steady-to-dead, with no major problems than some obnoxious older people who wouldn't bag, then ordered me to bag for them...and proceeded to re-arrange everything and add more groceries to bags they supposedly wanted light. I was very glad that it was quiet when I was done and I was able to leave with no relief.

I had dinner at Sonic's after a very quick stop at FYE to check if they had any new WebKinz. Ordered the same chicken wrap I had when Lauren and I were there last month, with a Low-Cal Diet Lime Limeade instead of the Cherry one. (By the way, the Cherry's better. Covers up the aspertame-y taste more than the lime does.) It was really busy at Sonic. The tables were filled with young men, including one strange guy who kept telling everyone within a five mile radius how much he loved Sonic's music.

I rushed back to the Acme as soon as I was finished eating to do my grocery shopping. I needed a lot of non-food items, and I wanted to make a pudding pie.

Oh, and my schedule this week is much better, 26 hours with Tuesday and next Saturday off. My only complaints are some fairly late nights, but having more hours makes up for that.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Too Hot To Balance

Actually, when I woke up this morning, it was quite cloudy and a bit cooler than it has been. However, it was still really hot, in the lower 90s, and very humid. That may be why there were only 9 people in class today, counting me, my friend Pattie, and the teacher Karin. We worked on inversions and standing poses today. On one hand, I can now kick up in the air easily; on the other hand, I still can't get on my head.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library next. They were busy, but there was surprisingly little to do. There were no DVDs to be put away or non-fiction books to shelve. I organized DVDs downstairs.

Made a fast stop at the thrift shop to say "hi" to my friend Erica next. Poor Erica's very upset. Her beloved cat Honey is having kidney problems, and she has to put him to sleep. What a bummer! I've met Honey before. He's a sweet cat, and Erica and her mom adore him. She says she's planning on getting another cat as soon as possible. She'll miss having a cat around too much to go without one for long.

Two quick stops at Rite Aid (to check mouthwash sales) and WaWa (milk) followed. After that, I went straight home. It was getting sunnier by then, and while it may not have been as boiling hot as earlier this week, it was by no means cool, either. I had leftovers for lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon working on things online.

The Acme tried to call me in around noon, but I didn't get in until around 12:30-1. It might be just as well that I opted not to take the hours this time. It was steady during rush hour, but otherwise dead. There was plenty of help and no major problems.

Some people claimed to have seen rain, but everything was still bone-dry when I got out of work. It was also somewhat cooler, with a wonderful breeze. I had a nice ride home.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Though it was still hot and a bit humid when I headed out around 10:30 this morning, it wasn't quite as much of either as it had been yesterday. I stopped at the mailbox in the front of the house to see if I had any mail today. Did I ever! I ended up going back in my apartment to open the package I received from Jennifer Payne, my friend from Seattle who visited me last month. She sent me a book on old-time radio, a box of smoked salmon, and a note thanking me for having her over. That was really sweet of her. Anytime, Jen! :)

I did finally make my way out to the Haddon Township Library after that, making a quick stop at Super Fresh first to see if they had Fig Newtons on sale. (Nope.) The Library was the busiest I've ever seen it! Adults and children bustled everywhere. People were likely trying to avoid the heat and amuse their children during a week many people are on vacation. I had lots of DVDs and books to put away. I finally took out two more books on self-esteem, the 2010 Mobil Guide to New York, a Disney comic book, and two American Girls Rebecca books, Rebecca to the Rescue and her first older-girls mystery, Secrets at Camp Nakomis.

Rescue is my favorite Rebecca book, along with Rebecca At the Movies. I grew up in the Jersey Shore, and Wildwood has many similar attractions to Coney Island. I know exactly how Rebecca feels when she and her siblings and relatives visit there. I used to look forward to the one or two days we'd visit the Wildwood Boardwalk every summer. The picture of Beckie, Ana, and Benny in the water reminds me so much of me, my sister Anny, and our little brother Keefe playing in the water when we were younger, right down to the amusement park in the background.

I stopped at Capitol Pizza for lunch. They have some of the area's best pizza...and some of the cheapest! I haven't had pizza in ages. I read Rebecca to the Rescue while eating a slice of mushroom pizza and gulping a Diet Coke...all for $3.36 with tax.

Rode home after that. Spent an hour or two reading and watching Muppet Show episodes indoors, then went swimming in Dad and Uncle Ken's pool. The pool felt sooo nice! It was at least 88, practically bathwater. It felt so nice and relaxing. I swam for about a half-hour, then read The Tale of Applebeck Orchard for another half-hour, just relishing the quiet.

Spent the rest of the evening inside, listening to Broadway cast albums (the original 1977 cast of Annie and 1980 cast of 42nd Street, both on LP) and making a great dinner. I had country-fried steak, fresh New Jersey corn on the cob (with no butter or salt - corn this sweet doesn't need it!), sauteed summer vegetables, and a green bean and radish salad. I used two bruised peaches and some of the Bryers Peach Ice Cream and made a peach milkshake for dessert.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

How to Beat the Heat

First of all, you do your walking in the morning. Even when I went out for my work-out walk around 10, it was incredibly hot...and now humid, too. There were a couple of kids that were out, but I not surprisingly didn't see anyone else. I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon inside, taking down the 4th of July and patriotic holiday decorations and watching the Frank Sinatra vehicle Lady In Cement.

Cement is fairly typical of the slick private eye flicks that came out in the wake of the mid-60s James Bond phenomenon. Sinatra's Tony Rome, a Miami private investigator who hunts for treasure in his spare time, is hired to find a young lady who has disappeared from a local club. When he learns about a woman who was recently found in cement in the Atlantic, he wonders if the two cases may be related...

Though a little rougher around the edges than the sleek Bond films, this is still very much a film of its time. The cops all wear suits; the women have hair the size of Montana. The suits, thankfully, spare us the more garish side of the 60s, and the Miami backdrop is both colorful and unusual. Raquel Welch makes for more intelligent eye candy than one usually finds in these films, and she's surprisingly decent with the older Sinatra.

Work wasn't nearly as fun. My ride to and from work was hot as heck. Though it wasn't crazy-busy, it was steady, and there were a lot of fussy beginning-of-the-month people who won't bag, or buy too much and then put half the order back. One woman complained about her ice cream not being frozen and that we should turn up the air conditioning. First of all, I thought Acme felt fine, especially compared to outside. Second, though I said the lack of air was probably caused by people constantly opening and closing doors, it's more than likely that the store can't afford to turn it up more.

Oh, and some dimwit decided to yell out his car window at me on the way home. I don't know what he said, but it ended with "bicycle" and probably wasn't complimentary. Jerk. What, it's a sin to ride a bike to work now? At least I'm not polluting the air...with my car or my mouth.

Sometimes, I really, really hate people.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Yes, It's Hot Enough For Me

The heat wave hit 99 today in the Philly area. Coupled with this technically being a holiday, thanks to the Fourth of July being on a Sunday this year, I made no major plans for today...and wouldn't have even if I'd kept today off. I did my laundry in a busy laundromat early this afternoon, but I otherwise just hung out, read books, and did stuff on the computer.

Work was a bit of a pain. It turns out that we closed at 9PM today, thanks to the holiday, so I found myself dealing with long lines that weren't going away by 9. Thankfully, most of my customers took it better than I did. The last ones, a mother and her trio of kids, were actually quite funny. Loved the enthusiastic and helpful 10-ish girl.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

This Party Is Your Party

First of all, Happy Fourth of July to all of my American readers!

Second, have I had a long day. It didn't start out that way. In fact, it began like any other Sunday. I slept in, wrote in my journal, read a chapter or two of The Tale of Briar Bank, and put on the Brunch With the Beatles show on WOGL. (Ringo Starr, whose birthday is on the 7th, was in the spotlight today.) I made blueberry pancakes and tried calling Mom; I never did get her.

My stomach's been feeling a little upset for some reason today. Maybe it was the hot dog yesterday. After spending some time online, I decided to walk over to the CVS on the White Horse Pike and buy a few rolls of Tums.

I strolled by Dad and Uncle Ken's house just in time to see Dad and Jodie pulling out of the driveway. They were on their way to Jodie's son's new apartment in Philadelphia. They told me that Jessa would drive me up to our cousin Samantha and her family's 4th of July party. When I went inside to confirm this with Jessa, she said she wasn't going until 3 or 4; she wanted to take a nap. Uncle Ken and Dolores would take me.

I ran to CVS and bought Tums, then ran home, packed up my bathing suit, and grabbed the Strawberry-Blueberry Pie I made a few days ago. I did ride up to Chew's Landing with Uncle Ken, Dolores, and Dolores' grandchildren Mercedes (10) and Blake (6). I enjoyed the ride, but it wasn't without incident. We mostly took the Black Horse Pike. There was traffic around Runnemede. Uncle Ken tried to take a shortcut, but it took a while. Dolores fussed at him, and then fussed at her grandchildren when they kept doing the "punch buggy" thing and raising their voices. I was quite happy when we all finally arrived at Sam's.

I spent most of the afternoon in the pool, keeping an eye on the kids. Samantha asked me to be the lifeguard, since I was already in there, and I agreed. The older kids - Mercedes, Sam's two boys Ethan and Matt, and a couple of cousins whose names I didn't catch - attempted various games, with much splashing and yelling. One was "Ultimate Marco Polo" (which seemed to just be not saying "polo" and jumping on everyone). The other was "Diddle," which made a bit more sense. The kids jumped into the pool and tried to find an object at the bottom, then would have to yell "Diddle!" when they claimed it.

I went back and forth between the older kids and little Faith and another cousin, a young lady by the name of Emma. Naturally, the little girls were much quieter. Emma #2 couldn't have been any more than 6 or 7, and Faith is just 4. She's still learning to swim, so she didn't leave the steps. We did enjoy pretending to be mermaids and admiring pretty leaves in the pool.

We ate around 3 (which was also when Jessa appeared). There was a ton of food - burgers, chicken, hot dogs, shredded pork, pasta salad, potato salad, rolls, baked beans. I had a burger, shredded pork (with Sam's tasty home-made barbecue sauce), pasta salad (also Sam-made, and really good - I loved the flower-shaped pasts she used), and a little bit of potato salad. (I'm not really a potato salad fan.) There was even more later. Karen and Jim brought corn, and someone else brought seafood. I did have a bit of corn later, but I wasn't up for the seafood.

Everyone went back in the pool for another hour or so. I happened to go inside with Mercedes to use the bathroom when I noticed that some of the desserts had been set out. We were hungry from swimming and went back outside to ask if we could have them. The other adults said yes, and I went and told the other kids...which lead to a stampede into the kitchen! Samantha was pretty mad when she found a gaggle of kids (and one hungry adult) dripping all over her kitchen floor. She yelled at her sons and shooed us all out. I felt a little bad for telling them and making such a mess, but Sam would say it was ok later. They just had to dry off next time.

I had cupcakes, sugar cookies, and a huge slice of Blueberry Crumble Pie I couldn't finish. After that, I didn't really feel like going back in the pool. I was getting tired. I talked to Dad and Jodie (who had arrived around 3:30-4) and everyone else out in the backyard for a while, then changed and read The Tale of Briar Bank.

Samantha and a few other adults had joined the kids in the pool area by then, deciding that a dip would be refreshing on a hot day. The remaining older boys (Uncle Ken and Dolores had taken their brood home), wired by too much sugar, were really getting crazy. They started having "ninja" fights and hitting each other with their foam noodle toys, doing cartwheels and sliding all over the place like they were in The Matrix. Samantha and I told them "cut it out" several times, but they wouldn't listen until David finally stepped in.

Dad, Jodie, and I were just about done at that point, anyway. I went home with them around 5:30-quarter of 6. Rose, Craig, and their 4-month-old son Khai arrived shortly after we did. I chatted with Rose and Jodie in the pool area for a while. Khai is getting so big and plump! He loves looking at trees. I held him for a little while, but he decided to try to get milk from my chest!

I was going to watch the Collingswood Fireworks at Veteran's Park. I hiked all over the park with the dolls and could not find a vantage point from which I could see the fireworks well, plus there was a lot of litter in the areas around the river. I then tried walking over to Newton River Park, but I didn't get any further than Dad's. I was way too tired.

I ended up joining Dad, Jodie, Craig, Rose, and Khai on the flat roof next to Jessa's room. I got really nervous getting out there. The window was so small, and I'm such a big person! I did eventually make my way out. We watched the gorgeous fireworks together until Khai decided he'd had enough noise and got fussy. Rose, Craid, and Dad went back in, and Jodie and I watched the last of the fireworks together.

(I don't know what Jodie's hurry was. She must have said "here's the grand finale" at least five times during the course of the show. The Collingswood Fireworks always take a while. And then she thought the actual finale was the beginning of the Penn's Landings show! There's always a gap between the two shows.)

I watched a couple of holiday-related cartoons when I got in. American patriot Bugs Bunny fights (Yosemite) Sam the Hessian soldier in the Looney Tunes classic Bunker Hill Bunny.

Donald Duck agrees to set up a romantic nighttime picnic in front of the fireworks for Daisy in the 1999 Mickey Mouse Works short Donald's Failed Fourth. However, he doesn't count on a recalcitrant picnic blanket, chairs that would rather join the Kentucky Derby, and his own bad sense of direction to cause trouble!

The Pink Panther finds himself playing Paul Revere in Pinky Doodle. He's been ordered to send papers on America's impending freedom to everyone in Boston...if the Loyalist horse he's riding will let him! (Incidentally, this cartoon seems to have been re-released in 1978 under the title Yankee Doodle Pink, which is on the same set.)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Oaklyn On Parade

Since my neighbor wasn't out yet when I headed for my Saturday morning errands, I decided to walk instead of taking the still-deflated bike. I hit the bank first, then hiked to the Collingswood Farm Market. The Farm Market was as busy as ever, with many people buying food for their 4th of July parties and barbecues. Cherries were gone, but I was able to buy tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, green beans, spinach, a cucumber, blueberry butter, and the first sugar plums and green peppers of the season.

I had a long, hot walk back to Oaklyn. The Oaklyn 4th of July Parade was supposed to be at 10 this morning. I haven't seen it in two years and really wanted to catch it. I heard fire engines and police cars when I arrived back on West Clinton Avenue around 10:40 and assumed it had already passed by...but there were tons of people sitting on the curb. I asked a man if the parade had started yet. As it turned out, in a time-honored tradition, no, it was late.

That worked out great for me. I plopped on the sidewalk near the apartment building on the corner of Manor and West Clinton, across from the billiards supply store, just in time. Less than 10 minutes after I sat down, the first glimpse of marching bands could be seen coming down the street.

I love parades, and while this one wasn't nearly as elaborate as the Christmas parade in Collingswood (no Mummers), it was fun. There were two local brass bands, kids on decorated bikes and wagons, and lots of local kids' sports teams in decorated vehicles. And everyone was tossing Jolly Ranchers, Dubble Bubbles, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Starlight Mints, and Brach's Ice Mints and Butterscotch discs! Even I filled a pocket of my backpack with Jolly Ranchers and Ice Mints.

I enjoyed more healthy treats, too. I snacked a little on my blueberries from the farm market while waiting for the parade. They were very popular. A mother and her teenage and college age daughters jokingly said they were ready to fight me for them.

When the parade ended, I joined the throng heading for the end of West Clinton Avenue and the front lawns of the Oaklyn School, where bleachers had been erected. The mayor made a speech, and one of the brass bands played "The Star Spangled Banner." After the band finished, the mayor announced the winners of the float and bike-decorating contests, and then everyone adjourned to the school's back lawn for hot dogs, soda, peanuts, and chips.

I had my hot dog, Pepsi, and peanuts in a shady spot next to the school building. It was really busy, but the line moved quickly. I leaned back and appreciated being able to join in this year. I've worked in the morning the day of the parade for the last two years. It was nice to be able to join the community and show some town spirit.

Michael was working on my bike when I finally got back to the apartment. He said the inner tube I'd bought was the wrong size, but was able to patch the old one. He also pumped both tires and tightened the chain. His attempts to cover my old handlebar grips with new foam went over less well. The tape he used didn't stay all that great and left black marks on my hands.

I rested for a while after talking to Michael. I briefly went over to Dad's and Uncle Ken's around 12:30, but no one was home. (Dad later told me that, ironically, they were at the party at the VFW across the street from me!) Spent the rest of the afternoon listening to my original cast album CDs for Ragtime and reading.

The bike held up fine to and from work. In fact, I had a lovely ride both ways. Work was off-and-on busy, though it did quiet down a bit towards the later part of the evening. There were a few annoying customers...and I didn't help. By the end of the night, I'd come off my sugar rush and was dead tired. I was in no mood for dealing with obnoxious old ladies and people who either wouldn't bag at all (or complained loudly about it) or rebagged everything I did.

Thank goodness I have off tomorrow. I hope all of my American readers enjoy your 4th of July weekend, too!

Friday, July 02, 2010


The day started out so well. It was lovely, breezy, and comfortable again when I got up this morning. I had a tomato and mushroom omelet with cheddar cheese for breakfast. After I ate, I went to the Oaklyn Library and volunteered there; did the usual organizing the DVDs and kids' picture books. There was a teen book discussion group on the other side of the main room, but otherwise, they were pretty quiet.

No wonder. It felt great when I went on my walk down the White Horse Pike. I stopped at WaWa and got a Coke Zero fountain soda with vanilla and cherry syrups...and no unpleasant encounters with obnoxious people this time. It was noon by then, and the traffic was pretty bad on the Pike. Good thing I stayed on my side of the street.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to my chicken leg and pasta salad lunch and to updating my finances and doing the budget. I normally wait until later in the month to get the budget done, but I figured since I had the time, I might as well get through it. Besides, I hadn't updated my check book in a while. I really overspent last month. A lot of it was counseling, vacation expenses, and buying new contacts, none of which I'll have to worry about in July.

I changed into my work uniform, made a peanut butter and peach butter sandwich for dinner, and headed downstairs. I received quite a shock when I realized that the front tire of the cruiser bike was flat. It was fine when I went to work yesterday! And when I tried to ride the mountain bike, the seat wouldn't pull forward...then it came off entirely! I guess I didn't do as good of a job as I thought putting it on. I set it as low as it would go when Lauren tried to ride it last month. I guess it was too low. The pole that holds the seat just wouldn't come back up, no matter how much we tried to pull it.

I had to get a ride from Jessa (who turned out to be on her way to work anyway) and was slightly late to work. I wasn't happy about it, but the woman I went in for didn't mind. Turns out she got caught in shore-bound traffic this morning and got in late herself! She really wanted the extra time! No wonder the manager waved it off.

Work was on-and-off busy all day. There were no really major problems customer-wise until my last one. One of the WIC Check customers gave me a hard time over the juice she was supposed to buy. Anyone who actually reads the darn pamphlets could tell you that you're supposed to buy 100% juice. Not mixes, cocktails, or added or detracted anything. She first brought me a cranberry cocktail, then a low-acid orange juice. I let her go with the orange juice because she was my last customer and was sick of dealing with her attitude, but I did tell her that it wasn't on the list and she shouldn't try buying it again. The guy behind her (who apparently worked for Shop Rite) even said she was acting ridiculous and should have known what to buy.

The irony is, when I went shopping for myself later, I noticed that the 100% Welch's juice is right next to the Cranberry-Raspberry Cocktail. She claimed she hadn't seen it. Either they'd just restocked, or she was lying through her teeth and only wanted what she wanted and not what she was supposed to get.

I saw my neighbor Michael in line towards the middle of my shift. He said he'd be home tonight and tomorrow and would look at the tire on the cruiser bike. (There isn't going to be time this weekend to mess with the seat on the mountain bike. We'll do that another time.) The tires were more pumped when Dad finally drove me home, but the front one was still flat. I'll see if I can replace it in the morning.

Oh, and I have a good schedule next week. 4th of July and Wednesday off, a few relatively late days, but nothing too bad. It was made even better when one of the managers asked me to come in on Monday 5-9. That's a little late, but four hours on what's considered a holiday this year (which means I'll get time and a half) will more than make up for it. And having the 4th of July off makes up for a lot of things. I can't remember the last time I was off completely on the 4th.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Beginning of the Month Balance

Started off another gorgeous day with this week's yoga class. We concentrated on stretching and working the legs. I did ok, but I'm still having a hard time with balancing. On one hand, I'm doing much, much better with bridge poses...but I still can't go any farther. It wasn't as busy as I thought it would be, either. There were 14 people there with me, my friend Pattie, and Karin, the teacher - not empty, but not as much as last week. A lot of people must have left early for their weekend trip to the Shore.

You'd never know that from how busy the Collingswood Library was! I arrived just as they were going into the second half of their Storybook Hour. There were lots and lots of DVDs to put away and organize! I was there for almost an hour and a half. Made a quick stop at the thrift shop after that to say "hi" to Erica, then headed home.

I had lunch, then decided to take advantage of the cooler day to bake muffins. I made Blueberry-Lemon Muffins from my British cookie book, topped with cinnamon and sugar, just like Mom used to make her blueberry muffins when we were little. Ran The Woman In White while the muffins baked. I'm not normally the biggest fan of Masterpiece Theater, but I did read Woman In White when I got into mysteries in high school.

Went for a walk after the movie ended and the muffins came out of the oven. It was a wonderful day for it. There was a fabulous breeze, and it was neither too hot nor humid at all. I went across the tracks this time and down by Dad's, then back around to West Clinton and down Woodland Terrace. Saw lots of people out and about - kids getting sodas at Doria's Deli, people working in their yards and taking their little ones out for a stroll.

When I got home, I cleaned up after the muffins, then changed into my work uniform, packed my dinner, and headed to work. It was a nice ride, though a little windy. I wish it could stay this nice all summer.

Work was a pain. It's the beginning of the month, complete with all the fun, annoying people who can only do their shopping now because this is when they get their government funds. Thankfully, I was in the express lane, so I avoided some of the Camden families with huge orders and even bigger chips on their shoulders. I did get stuck with a lot of obnoxious, demanding old people who couldn't (or wouldn't bag), and yet had no problem with giving me 200 orders on how to bag.

One of the older ladies was really confused. I spent 5 minutes trying to explain to her that yes, I put the store card in, and no, she didn't have any sales. I wasn't sure, which is why I did put the card in. She alternately fussed that I hadn't put the card in and wondered why I put the card in when she didn't have any sales. And she claimed she couldn't lift the cat litter bag in her cart...yet wouldn't accept help to get it to her car.